NORTH LIBERTY, Ia. — The Prime Time League wasn’t as easy for Jordan Bohannon as he made it appear in his debut game.
Iowa’s freshman point guard made 7-of-11 3-pointers that night, some from near halfcourt. By the time the summer league ended for Bohannon’s team, with a blowout playoff loss Thursday at the North Liberty Recreation Center, he had cooled considerably.
Bohannon scored 21 points in that 120-72 defeat, but was only 3-of-12 from the arc.
He had a simple explanation.
“We’re pushing pretty hard in practice and we’re lifting (weights) before these games,” Bohannon said of his Hawkeye teammates. “These games are somewhat important, but we’ve just got to realize the long run and not every one of these possessions is going to affect what’s going to happen this season.”
Bohannon’s introduction to Division I basketball started in April, after a senior year at Linn-Mar in which he averaged 25.8 points and was named Iowa's Mr. Basketball. He started working with a local nutritionist, knowing that he needed to add weight in order to tangle with the bigger athletes he was about to face. Within three months, 165 pounds turned in to 180 on his 6-foot-1 frame.
When Bohannon got to campus, his coaches had him guard senior star Peter Jok. That assignment has challenged his conditioning.
“I can get tired pretty quickly,” Bohannon learned. “It’s a totally different game, a lot quicker and faster-paced. That’s something I’ll adjust to as the season goes on.”
Bohannon welcomes the challenges. He said he feels like his weight is already where it should be for his freshman season and that the added strength hasn’t cost him any quickness. And he’s always prided himself on being the best-conditioned athlete on his teams, so he knows that trying to keep up with Jok is only going to help him get to that point with the Hawkeyes.
“Being a point guard, that helps a lot, being able to communicate even when you’re tired,” Bohannon said. “I know I’m going to have to do that a lot this year. If I just keep my conditioning level up, I know my shots will start falling sooner or later.”
Bohannon speaks as if he expects to log significant minutes this winter. He knows there’s an opening at point guard after Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons graduated off of last year’s squad. He and sophomore Christian Williams have been pushing each other in practices.
“Our competitive level goes up, just knowing that spot’s open,” Bohannon said. “That’s my main goal, is to play right away.”
Bohannon is the fourth member of his family to play Division I hoops. He’s also the shortest. Jason (6-2) was a shooting guard at Wisconsin; Zach (6-6) was a small forward at Air Force before transferring to Wisconsin; Matt (6-4) just completed his career as a shooting guard at Northern Iowa.
Jordan acknowledged that he’d love to have the height of his older siblings, but it also may explain why he’s the only point guard in the family, albeit with a dangerous outside shot.
“I pride myself on my ball-handling more than probably they did. They were more shooters and Zach was more a post player,” Jordan said. “That’s probably something I worked on more than they did is my ball-handling and to just endure contact non-stop.”
Matt was watching Jordan’s game Thursday. There was speculation earlier this summer that he might lace up his sneakers and play alongside his younger brother in the PTL. But he’s left basketball behind, he said, planning to embark on an accounting career with a job lined up in Des Moines.
“It would have been nice to play on the same team,” Jordan Bohannon said, before taking a playful dig at his brother.
“He’s getting old. His knees drag him down.”