After sitting out 16 games because of eligibility complications regarding NCAA transfer rules last season, forward Ivan Cruz Uceda is now prepared for the pace and physicality that marks the ACC conference. Entering his senior year, Uceda committed his off-season to prepare for the rigors of ACC play. The Madrid native has lost 20 pounds and reduced his body fat percentage from 24 to 9 percent.
Uceda excelled in two seasons at a junior college before transferring to Miami, setting school records for rebounds in a game (29) and career (635), while also leaving Harcum College as the fourth-highest scorer in its history with 957 points and sixth in blocked shots (76).
“It was hard at the beginning because I came from junior college, so coming to play from junior college to the ACC right away was really hard,” Uceda said. “I think it really helped me to be ready for this year and have an idea of what to expect.”
Because of his European background, the forward offers a unique skill set playing both inside and out. Although tall players are often perceived as disadvantaged when shooting three pointers, Uceda achieved a .339 three-point percentage, proving that his height only supplements his skill.
“I think as a 6-foot-10 guy, I can stretch the floor really good, so I can make more space down low for Tonye [Jekiri] or more guys who can dribble the ball on the way to the basket. I can help on the rebounds too,” Uceda said.
On the defensive side, Uceda has proven to be a promising rebounder and low post player. In his inaugural season for the Canes, he totaled 74 rebounds and held his own against some of the behemoths in the ACC.
With Uceda’s commitment and the addition of forward Kamari Murphy, Canes should see improvements on defense and on the boards – the two areas they struggled with last year.