Iowa basketball star Jordan Bohannon to have another hip surgery, seek medical redshirt to play in 2020-21
A little more than a month after surgery on his right hip, Jordan Bohannon’s heart sank as a familiar feeling returned this summer.
Except this time, the pain was coming from his left hip.
He went in for an evaluation, and doctors told him that the left hip would require the same surgery the right hip endured in May. They deemed the right hip as a “9” out of 10 on the severity threshold, and the left hip a “7.”
In other words, both significant.
Still, as Iowa’s basketball season approached, Bohannon’s competitive juices kicked in. He wanted to try to play through the pain. But last week’s 84-68 victory at Iowa State was Bohannon’s final game of the Hawkeyes’ 2019-20 season.
He’s going to have season-ending surgery on the left hip. The operation is scheduled for Thursday at the University of Iowa.
The school released an update on Bohannon late Monday afternoon.
“It has been an incredibly difficult last 6-9 months dealing with what I’ve had to go through,” Bohannon said in a statement. "The unwavering support from Hawkeye nation, team, coaches, friends and family has meant the world to me. I’m looking forward to finally being 100% and will be doing everything I can to help this team out from the sidelines the rest of the season."
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, in a statement, added this: "I could not have more respect for Jordan and the way in which he has fought to get back on the court for this team."
After this surgery, rigorous rehab will begin again. The typical recovery is six to nine months. He’ll apply for a medical-hardship waiver, and he most certainly should get it.
To qualify, a student-athlete can’t play more than 30% of his team’s games (in Iowa’s case, 10 — Bohannon made sure of that number with UI compliance) and can’t play at all during the second half of the season. The Iowa State game was Bohannon’s 10th, and the Hawkeyes won’t hit the halfway mark until January.
As the games mounted this season, so did Bohannon’s discomfort. That became evident during Iowa’s Thanksgiving tournament in Las Vegas.
Twenty-four hours after scoring a season-best 20 points in Iowa’s impressive win against Texas Tech, Bohannon was ineffective. He scored just three points in a loss to San Diego State. It was a humbling reminder that his body couldn’t do what it needed to do to play 30-plus games of high-level college basketball.
Bohannon got to the point where he stopped practicing, counting on rest and treatment to get him ready for games. At Syracuse on Dec. 3, he seemed resigned to the fact that his season would not continue past the Iowa State game. But he was determined to play one last time in Hilton Coliseum.
“I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to provide for this team coming into the season,” Bohannon told the Register after Iowa’s 68-54 win at Syracuse. “But I knew I wanted to provide a couple signature wins for this team.”
And he did. Iowa will have a solid 8-3 record (1-1 in the Big Ten Conference) when it resumes action without Bohannon on Saturday against Cincinnati at the United Center in Chicago.
But we haven’t seen the last of Iowa’s career leader in 3-pointers (with 286, in 112 games) and one of its best late-game players of all-time.
It would be a stunner if Bohannon isn’t granted a fifth year of eligibility. His case is almost identical to that of former Iowa State guard Naz Mitrou-Long, who received a medical-hardship waiver following the 2015-16 season.
Mitrou-Long also had similar surgeries on both hips. He played in eight games as a fourth-year senior but wasn’t himself. After a 38-minute outing and an 83-82 win against Iowa at Hilton Coliseum, Mitrou-Long shut it down. He received approval for the fifth year and returned to have his best collegiate season — 15.1 points per game and a Big 12 tournament championship at Iowa State.
The only difference is that Mitrou-Long’s surgeries occurred in the same offseason. But in both cases, playing through the pain became unsustainable.
That’s where Bohannon stands now, and the Mitrou-Long case provides him hope going forward.
That he can eventually play without pain. And that his best year of basketball is still to come.
Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 25 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.