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Miami Basketball Player Review: Ivan Cruz Uceda

In this new series we look at UM's returning hoops players, what they did right, what they can do better, who they should be watching film on this summer, and more.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Key Stats: 5.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 37% FG, 34% 3P, 82% FTs.

Best Game: 3/7 Vs VT - 18 points, 7-11 shooting, 3-4 on triples, 5 rebounds.

Worst Game: 4/2 Vs Stanford (NIT Championship) - 3 points, 1-6 shooting, in 31 minutes.

What he does well:  ICU as illustrated above, has a lightning quick release and can knock down three balls pretty well for a 6'10 guy.  Cruz Uceda also does a decent job (based on overall  minutes) getting to the line, where he shoots extremely well for a "big."   The native of Spain also does a nice work on the glass, using his soft hands and size to collect rebounds at a pretty decent rate.  Uceda is also astute playing with his back to the basket when he is able to get the ball down low.  Has good vision and the ability to develop into a good passer as well.

What he needs to do better:  In order to use his post game, he needs to get stronger in both his upper and lower body. Uceda has trouble holding position on both ends of the floor, and finishing close to the basket is also a chore for him. Increased agility/strength would also help him on defense, an area he was severely lacking in this past season, especially 1 on 1 on the block.  Although he has good hands, Uceda's limitations athletically prevent him from doing serious work on the glass.  And while Cruz Uceda is a good shooter, he sometimes jacks up shots at the first opportunity, preventing the team from running offense and finding better shots.

Player I would like him to watch film on:  Arvydas Sabonis, former NBA Player Portland Trail Blazers (95-03).  Sabonis was bigger/taller at 7'3 than Uceda (6'10), but by the time he arrived in the NBA after a decorated career internationally, injuries had robbed him of much of his athletic ability. But with a feathery touch, efficient  low post moves, a sweet jumper, and a versatile skill set overall,  he was very much an effective player in the Association.  Every movement Sabonis made has a purpose, and his skills overshadowed his limitations. Uceda is not as talented as Sabonis was, but he is adept enough on the basketball court to make an impact, if he can be half as efficient as the former Lithuanian star.

Summary:  Will Ivan be a seldom used three point specialist, or the first big off the bench next season for the 'Canes?  His main competition would appear to be Omar Sherman, who possesses a similar game, but moves and jumps much better.  For Cruz Uceda to solidify his role with UM, he will have to do a lot more on the glass/defensively  and/or show the propensity to score more consistently.  Overall he should be slightly improved overall at minimum, considering he will not half to miss half the season again (NCAA) and will be ready at the onset of 2015-16.