IOWA CITY, Ia. — Fran McCaffery has no choice this summer but to proceed as if he’ll be without his senior point guard when the Iowa basketball team begins play in November.
Jordan Bohannon underwent hip surgery this spring and indicated he might take a redshirt season to fully heal. McCaffery, meeting with reporters Tuesday, said the surgery went well and Bohannon is resting but still in some discomfort.
“It’s going to take a long time,” McCaffery said of the uncertainty around Bohannon’s status for 2019-20. “He can’t be worried about getting back. We won’t put that pressure on him.”
Bohannon, a three-year starter, would leave a large void. Sophomore Connor McCaffery and incoming freshman Joe Toussaint would be the primary two point guards on the current roster, although Bakari Evelyn has publicly said he’ll soon join the Hawkeyes as a graduate transfer from Valparaiso. The paperwork is not yet signed, however, so McCaffery couldn’t yet comment on Evelyn.
Toussaint got to campus this week. He is the only true point guard in town since Connor McCaffery is playing in a summer baseball league in New York.
“Versatility is what we’re looking for there,” Fran McCaffery said. “We’ve got some flexibility. (Redshirt freshman) CJ Fredrick can play that position.”
Transfer market is 'the new normal'
The addition of Evelyn is a good indication of how McCaffery plans to fill the point guard role should Bohannon need a winter to convalesce. It’s also a sign of how fluid rosters are in college basketball these days. McCaffery had never before accepted a graduate transfer. This winter, he’s also losing one in shooting guard Isaiah Moss.
“It’s the new normal,” said McCaffery, who is also losing power forward Tyler Cook to the professional ranks and wing player Maishe Dailey to the transfer market. “Roster management at the conclusion of the season is becoming increasingly more important for everybody. For the most part, I think people who come here come here for the right reasons. They enjoy playing here. We treat them with respect and give them a great opportunity.”
As for Moss, who announced Monday that he’s going to play at Kansas, McCaffery said:
“I love the kid. Really rooting for him. He was a really good player for us for three years. I hope it works out for him. I’m good friends with (Jayhawks) coach (Bill) Self. I think he’ll be good for him.”
Patrick McCaffery 'might be a valuable piece' as a freshman
McCaffery is welcoming his second son into the fold this summer. Patrick, a 6-foot-8 forward, has joined the Hawkeyes knowing that he needs to put on muscle in order to compete effectively at the Big Ten Conference level.
Fran McCaffery said the plan for now is to play Patrick rather than redshirt him.
“He’s getting a lot stronger. He’s been lifting,” McCaffery said. “His game is in a really good place, so he might be a valuable piece that we can decide (to play). Obviously, he’ll have some input into that decision, what’s best for him.”
Patrick McCaffery is no stranger to the Iowa program, which is making the transition easier, his father said.
“He’s been in the gym for these workouts since he’s been in fourth grade,” McCaffery said. “I think in addition to that, he knows all the guys. He’s played against them in high school or he’s played against them in open gym situations. So he’s very comfortable. It’s not been any kind of adjustment. It’s been pretty seamless actually.”
Welcome back, Cordell Pemsl and Jack Nunge
In the low post, McCaffery will be gaining two veteran players this winter when junior Cordell Pemsl and sophomore Jack Nunge return from redshirt seasons. They will join senior center Ryan Kriener and junior center Luka Garza, and potentially offset the loss of Cook, Iowa’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Nunge, at 6-foot-11, is up to 250 pounds. And it shows, McCaffery said.
“His power moves inside have been really impressive. He can stretch the floor,” McCaffery said.
“Cordell’s a little bit of a different player. You can run the offense through him in the low post because he’s such a good passer. Great screener,” McCaffery added.
“Both of those guys can score. A lot of times when you have four post players who can score, that’s a really good thing. Because a lot of teams don’t have that.”
Mark Emmert covers University of Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen.