Andrew Fleming explains decision to leave Iowa program

Chad Leistikow

For the second day in a row, it was announced that a promising freshman guard is leaving the Iowa basketball program.

Andrew Fleming is going to transfer to another Division I school in search of more playing time, he told The Des Moines Register on Thursday.

“You know I love to play, and I have a big passion for being out there,” Fleming said. “So it’s not like anyone was shocked by it.”

The 6-foot-5 native of Nashville, Tenn., by way of Oak Hill Academy, came to Iowa as part of a five-player freshman class, but he had trouble getting on the floor. Now 40 percent of that group is transferring, with the Wednesday news that Brandon Hutton is leaving, too.

Fleming played 80 minutes in 11 games for Iowa. He scored 24 points, including the final two of the Hawkeyes’ season in an 87-68 loss to Villanova in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 20 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Iowa's Andrew Fleming, right, got late action in the final game of the season against Villanova. He played in 11 games, but only three since Big Ten Conference play began.

Fleming came in with a reputation of a prolific scorer, having led all Hawkeye players in the summer Prime Time League in points per game, but wound up getting stuck behind fellow shooting guard Brady Ellingson in Fran McCaffery’s rotation.

Then when Ellingson was benched, it was fellow freshman Christian Williams who was inserted to the lineup.

Four more freshmen are arriving from McCaffery’s Class of 2016, including guard Jordan Bohannon. Another guard, Isaiah Moss, redshirted last season for Iowa. Throw in all-Big Ten guard Peter Jok, who is likely to return for his senior year, and Fleming wasn’t sure about his future in Iowa City.

“A lot of my teammates don’t even really know, quite honestly," Fleming said. "I took it upon myself to be proactive with this decision. And there’s a lot of stuff going on in college basketball, so I thought if I was going to make this decision, I would get it done now.

“Playing time is important to me. It’s going to be whatever school is going to put me in the best position to be successful. I just don’t want to run into another situation where there’s sort of a logjam.”

He emphasized that his decision had nothing to do with his teammates.

“We all love each other. It’s not about anybody else. It’s just about me,” Fleming said.

Fleming only saw eight minutes of action in Iowa’s 18 Big Ten Conference games.

“I gave it everything I had from PTL, leading our team and the whole league in scoring, to the very last practice in Brooklyn,” Fleming said. “It was funny: I was out there (and hit) two or three 3s in our last walk-through practice. I’m always attacking, always competing, and I tried to focus on having a great attitude all year and supporting my guys.

“I just want to be out there and find a coach that’s going to utilize everything that I bring to the table.”

The departures of Hutton and Fleming almost certainly will allow McCaffery to put walk-on and fan favorite Nicholas Baer -- one of the Hawkeyes’ top bench players last season -- on scholarship. And that still leaves one more opening for McCaffery to try to pluck a graduate-transfer or class of 2016 player.

The Hawkeyes’ most immediate need is at point guard.

In a statement, McCaffery said: “Andrew has a bright future, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors. My staff and I will do whatever we can to help Andrew during this transition."