Nick DeWitz Ready After Long Layoff

After almost a year and a half away from competitive basketball, Hawkeye forward Nick DeWitz is working his body back into game shape. HawkTalkOnline caught up with 6-foot-7 sophomore-to-be at Thursday's Prime Time League. He scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds a week after having 12 stitches put into his mouth.

Nick DeWitz shuffled slowly across the court Thursday looking like a man carrying a piano on his back.

A year and a half away from competitive basketball can do that to a guy.

"I'm just trying to get back into game shape," the Iowa sophomore-to-be said after his Prime Time League game at the North Liberty Community Center.

"I didn't think it was going to be as tough as it was. But my first game out here, I struggled pretty bad."

DeWitz suffered through 3-of-13 field goal shooting in his PTL opener on June 16. Thursday, he started strong, netting 15 points by halftime. But fatigue set in again as the 6-foot-7 forward was held scoreless over the final 20 minutes.

"This Prime Time League is going to be a good transition," said DeWitz, who pulled down 11 rebounds Thursday.

Some slack can be given to the Arizona native, who last played at Utah Valley State College during the 2001-02 school year. He averaged 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds.

DeWitz sat out last season to retain three years of Division I eligibility.

The Sporting News ranked DeWitz as its second best power forward in junior college last season even though he was sitting out. He visited Indiana, Florida State, Fresno State and Oregon State before choosing Iowa. He transferred here in January and practiced with the team.

A main reason why DeWitz selected the Hawkeyes was team camaraderie.

"This is probably the closest team that I've played on," he said. "Everyone gets along."

Iowa fans attending the PTL action have witnessed a well-rounded game from DeWitz. He handles the ball well for a 6-7 player, can shoot to 3-point range and shows solid moves in the post. Versatility could allow him to play two or three positions.

DeWitz plans on competing for a starting spot next season.

"I'll probably play the three, the small forward," he said. "That's what they brought me in for. That's what I think I'm going to be playing next year.

"But if they put me at center, I'll play center. That's not going to happen. But wherever they put me, that's where I'll play."

Iowa might open the season with a starting lineup of Jeff Horner, Pierre Pierce, Nick DeWitz, Glen Worley and Jared Reiner.

If toughness counts for anything, DeWitz should see plenty of court time. Just a few minutes into his PTL game last Thursday, he bumped heads with another player and opened up a gash that required 12 stitches in his lip.

DeWitz traveled to New York for a graduation last weekend and was back on the court in a week. His stitches were removed on Wednesday.

"He fits in good on this team, personality wise, playing wise, everything," said Iowa forward Greg Brunner, who broke his nose during a game last season.

"He's a great player," Hawkeye guard Brody Boyd said of DeWitz. "He's fun to play with. And he's going to be fun to watch this season and into the future."

While the adjustment to new teammates seems to have been a smooth one, the Iowa weather has been a bit tougher to take. He survived the winter with many layers of clothing.

This week, the muggy summer blanketed him.

"The weather, it's starting to get humid out here now," DeWitz said with a disapproving face. "It's definitely a change from the dry heat of 110 out (in Arizona).

"But no matter where you go, it's always different from home. It's a good change."

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