In the wake of Jordan Bohannon's surgery, freshman PG Joe Toussaint is ready to 'step up tremendously'
Jordan Bohannon created some of the most memorable moments from Iowa's 2018-19 basketball season.
The straightaway game-winner against Northwestern.
The step-back, hand-in-his-face 3-pointer to go to overtime at Indiana.
The lay-up through contact to ice Iowa's NCAA Tournament win over Cincinnati.
Every play, every game, Joe Toussaint was watching. The New York point guard and Hawkeye signee studied Bohannon — the way he shoots, the way he handles, the way he talks, the way he leads.
Toussaint was eager to play with Bohannon and "feed off him," he said.
And that will still happen … just maybe not next year.
With Bohannon potentially missing all of next season due to hip surgery, Iowa's point guard situation is different than when Toussaint committed in September. Instead of learning and waiting in the wings, he could have more of a significant role in his first year.
"With Jordan out, I’m going to have to step up tremendously," the three-star point guard from the Bronx said. "Just being a leader and not being afraid to talk, not being afraid to make mistakes."
Toussaint said he and Iowa's coaches haven't discussed their expectations for him in the wake of Bohannon's surgery, but he expects to have that conversation soon after he arrives on campus this Saturday.
He has been talking with Bohannon, though.
"I told him that I still need his help, I need him to guide me through the whole season, the offseason — just being a leader," Toussaint said. "He’s a great player. I watched him play a lot. I just love his game. He's just a tough guy."
Redshirt sophomore Connor McCaffery joins Toussaint as the healthy point guards on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman C.J. Fredrick can handle the ball, but he's more of a shooting guard. Fran McCaffery is also pursuing Valparaiso graduate transfer Bakari Evelyn, a combo guard who could play both perimeter spots.
Joseph Lods coached Toussaint at Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx. He's been with the program for 15 years and seen a whole lot of talent in his gym.
Lods said he's optimistic Toussaint can make an early impact in Iowa City, because he's one of the most college-ready seniors he's seen in New York.
"He might be Big Ten all-freshman team, something like that," Lods said. "He’s going to pick you up and guard you the whole length of the floor. I’ve had so many kids, I’ve been doing this for a long time now — he’s there. He’s not going to shrink in the moment.
"Joe is strong. There’s nothing frail about him. Very, very strong-willed kind of kid. He’s very, very college-ready. He’s the most college-ready kid we’ve had in a long time."
The thought with Toussaint is he brings quickness and running back-like shiftiness that Iowa hasn't had at point guard in some time. He looks to set up teammates, but he can take over a game when necessary.
Lods recalled countless games during Toussaint's high school career where he'd erase a second-half deficit for a win. He also recalled the moment he told Toussaint he was close to breaking Cardinal Hayes' all-time scoring record, which was set in 1990 by future Kentucky Wildcat, No. 4 overall pick and NBA All-Star Jamal Mashburn.
"And then he’s like: 'Say no more. Say no more,'" Lods laughed.
A few months later, Toussaint broke the record.
"He’s got so much confidence. It’s crazy," Lods added. "He’s always going to find a way."
Toussaint is all-in on the Hawkeyes. He fell in love with the program during his official visit in September, saw no need for more visits and committed on the spot. He said he and Patrick McCaffery are already talking about their freshman-year workout plans.
Even though New York native Andrew Francis was Toussaint's main recruiter, the 6-foot guard said he never thought of de-committing when Francis left Iowa for Cal.
"He had to do what’s best for him, and I respect that," Toussaint said. "All the coaches made me feel so comfortable, you know? It’s not just one particular coach that singled me out. All the coaches made me feel comfortable."
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.