Dominique Uhl is a 22 year old 206cm forward from Frankfurt, Germany that will be going into his senior year at the University of Iowa this fall. He started his basketball career with Eintracht Frankfurt and also played two seasons with the Fraport Skyliners Juniors from 2011-2012 playing 4 pro B games. He then decided to go to the states in 2012 and played two years at Point Pleasant Beach High School (New Jersey). He moved to the University of iowa in 2014 an din his three seasons there has played a total of 96 games. In his freshman year he played 32 games averaging 2.1ppg, 1.9rp. In his second year at Iowa (NCAA) he played 32 games averaging 5.9ppg, 3.5rpg, FGP: 39.8%, 3PT: 43.9%, FT: 59.3%. In his junior year at Iowa (NCAA), he played 32 games averaging 3.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.2apg. He currently is on a European tour with Iowa playing in Germany, Switzerland and Italy. He spoke to German Hoops before a special exhibition game in Germany in support of Basketball Aid.
Dominique thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been going along?
No problem, anytime. I’m at school right now and my summer has been good so far, I’ve been working on my game a lot as well as my body. I’m just focusing on getting back to the basics and strengthening my my fundamentals.
Recently your ex teammate Tim Oldenburg retired so he could focus on his police job. You practiced with him many years ago when you were in the Frankfurt organization and played one Pro B game against Giessen. Did you notice already then that he could become the back bone and leader for so many years for the Fraport Skyliners.
Tim has always been a great guy. Even back then it was noticeable that he had the skills that are necessary to be a leader, so I am not surprised at all. I’m sure he will be able to thrive in his new career and I wish him all the best.
You have been in the States now for five years and will be playing your final year at Iowa in 2017-2018. How Americanized have you become in these 5 years and what good German quality do you still hope to possess?
I have become very Americanized by now, on and of the court. People even forget that I am from Germany sometimes. However, I think I still have some german qualities in me such as being well organized and disciplined.
Before we talk about your basketball career at Iowa, let´s look forward to this summer. Sonn you and Iowa will be embarking on a European tour that will take you to Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Have your already been given the tour guide job?
I’ll leave that part to the actual tour guide, but I’m obviously going to provide some of my knowledge and act as an assistant tour guide especially while we are in Frankfurt.
You will be returning home to play in a charity basketball game for BASKETBALL AID. How excited are you to be part of this good cause and what do you know about it?
I don’t really know much about it to be honest, but it is always nice to know that you’re playing for a good cause and I’m glad that we are able to contribute to that.
Your junior season ended on March 19 in the NIT Sweet 16 falling to TCH 94-92 in OT. How long did it take you to digest the loss? Will this loss give you some extra motivation in Heidelberg in the BASKETBALL AID game?
It took us a while to digest that loss, because it was our goal to win the NIT at that point and we knew that we were capable of winning that game. I don’t think this loss gives us extra motivation for Heidelberg particularly but we’re definitely going to use this trip, combined with what we learned in that loss to TCU to get ready for this upcoming season.
How important will this game be for you in general? You are on a massive stage in the Carver-Hawkeye arena each weekend that fits 15,400 people. However do you see the game in Germany as being a kind of test for you as coaches, scouts and agents who will be at the game will see you play live again. Next summer you will be looking for a professional team to continue your basketball career.
This game is very important to me, because my mom gets to see me play and like you said it’s a chance for me to showcase what I can do on the court as well.
You will be playing against Serb legend Alexsandar Nadjfjei who had a long successful career in Germany. What do you remember about his game in the BBL when you were growing up?
I don’t remember much about his game, but I remember watching him a couple times when he played for Alba. It’s always fun to play against great players like that, I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Before going to Iowa in 2014 you were two years at Point Pleasant Beach High School (New Jersey). Did you have the notion going to the States in 2012 that your path would be the NCAA?
I came to the US with the goal of playing D1 college basketball, so yes that was absolutely my plan. I was fortunate enough to get a bunch of scholarship offers from various schools.
Let´s talk a little about your game. You love the game of Kevin Durant, but your big inspiration is Tracy Mcgrady. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player today who would it be?
If I had to compare myself to somebody in the NBA I would probably have to go with Paul George. We’re about the same size and are able to handle the ball as well as knock down outside shots. Just the ability of doing a little bit of everything on the court.
You’re a very athletic player that is catergorized as a stretch four. What do you feel is still an asset in your game today that gets overlooked to much on the floor?
It think my defense gets overlooked sometimes. I feel confident in guarding a variety of positions but I don’t always get to show it.
In your first three seasons at IOWA(NCAA) you haven´t been able to establish yourself other than a good role player averaging 10 minutes as a freshman, 17 minutes in your second season and 14 minutes as a junior. Are you disappointed that you haven´t been able to have more of a role or do the stats and minutes lie?
Everybody gets frustrated sometimes and I of course I wish I had a bigger role but It hasn’t worked out that way so far. All I can to is to keep working to become the best player I can be to help the team win.
In your first two seasons you played with some talented big guys with NBA Draft pick Aaron White who played with Bonn as a rookie in the BBL and ex Bamberg center Gabriel Olaseni. How do you feel did their presence help you overall mature on the court?
Both of them helped me a lot in my maturation process during their time at Iowa. Especially Gabe, because we’re both from Europe and had to go through the same process. I worked out with both of them a lot this summer and asked them about their professional experience.
You have reached the NCAA tournament and now going into your senior year, what expectations do you have of your own game and in what area of your game do you see making another step?
I want to just focus on being more consistent this upcoming season. My numbers weren’t were I wanted them to be last season. I feel like I can be a better rebounder and scorer then I was.
In your second year you had two strong back to back games netting 10 points apiece in wins against Michigan and Michigan States. Was this just solid play for you against top name schools, or are these games that you will forever remember in terms of their competitiveness?
Those were just solid games to me. I think I’m capable of more but it did feel good to beat Michigan State at their place while having a solid game.
You have played for many German coaches, but now three years with American coach Fran McCaffery. What has been the most important thing that you have benefited from his wisdom that has translated to the court in your game?
Coach McCaffery helped me to slow the game down for me. I learned to play at different speeds. I pick my spot better than I did before, which results in less turnovers.
Back in 2010 you played for the German U-16 team with many talented guys. If somebody had said then that Paul Zipser would be a solid NBA player in 2016 what would you have said?
He was a great player back than and I knew he would be successful but none of us probably would’ve thought that he would play in the NBA back then. I watched a lot of his games last season. He established himself as a great role player and there’re only better things ahead for him.
Did ex teammate Peter Jok ever tell any stories about his relative Manute Bol how far do you see him going as a professional?
He told me about his uncle a couple times but I don’t recall a specific story. I think he can go very far and have a successful career. He’s lights out shooter and came have a big impact on any team.
Who wins a one on one in practice you or Cordell Pemsl?
I’d win!! Bout I don’t think we ever played each other before
How does a normal summer work out day look like for you on and off the court and what are the main things you will be working on in your game?
My day starts with a team lift in the morning. After than I go home and grab something to eat. Afterwards I get some shots up on my own. Then we have our Team workouts. Following that I take care of my school work for the day. I have the rest of the day to relax for a bit or get some more shots up.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
MJ, Lebron, Shaq, Kevin Durant
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and has three to Michael Jordan. There are so many experts that keep proclaiming that Lebron is the best of all-time. Where do you rate him in the neverending debate about who the best of all-time is?
I think he is second behind MJ, but to be honest you can’t really compare those two because they both play a different position and played in different eras.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I don’t think it’s fair at all. I can’t speak for him but I’m sure he doesn’t care about his stats. He cares more about winning a title. That’s why everybody plays. All those people that claim he only cares about stats only need a story to talk about.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I think Kyle Kuzma is the biggest sleeper. People didn’t really know about him before the summer league started but I think he can have a big impact.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Dominique for the chat.