Iowa basketball: Jordan Bohannon, Jack Nunge each granted extra year of eligibility
Jordan Bohannon has received approval from the Big Ten Conference for a fifth season of eligibility, a ruling that clears the way for Iowa’s all-time leader in 3-pointers to continue an already-legendary college basketball career after December hip surgery.
Bohannon played in 10 games last season for the Hawkeyes, the maximum allowed by the NCAA’s medical-hardship requirements.
Although the ruling was expected, it comes as a relief for a Hawkeyes’ 2020-21 roster that continues to look like a Big Ten Conference title contender — especially if consensus all-American Luka Garza returns to school. In late April, all-Big Ten guard Joe Wieskamp said he would return for his junior season with the Hawkeyes rather than test the NBA process.
Bohannon wasn’t the only Hawkeye to receive good news Tuesday. Teammate Jack Nunge, who played in five games last season before tearing his ACL, also r approval for a medical-hardship waiver. That means Nunge, despite going into his fourth year of college, will be considered a redshirt sophomore next season. The 6-foot-11, 245-pound forward has 19 career starts and figures to be a prominent contributor for seasons to come.
Iowa was still awaiting word on its petition for forward Patrick McCaffery, who played in just two games last season as a true freshman while dealing with health issues related to his past bout with thyroid cancer. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said last week that Patrick's weight was over 200 pounds (on his 6-9 frame) for the first time in his life, a positive sign for his recovery.
Bohannon’s waiver, though, was the biggest development Tuesday. A sharpshooter with 112 career games, 284 3-pointers and 1,310 points under his belt would bring the Hawkeyes a veteran, clutch presence for what could be the best team of the 11-year McCaffery era. Iowa sorely needed consistent outside shooting down the stretch of an 20-11 season that was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Bohannon would have certainly delivered that. He is within 90 3-pointers of the Big Ten's career record.
The feeling within the program is that Bohannon will rise to his best level of basketball yet, after he dealt with plantar fasciitis as a sophomore, then a bad right hip as a junior … which led to May 2019 surgery and problems with his left hip, which required December surgery. Bohannon’s rehab from the second hip surgery has been faster than the first and all is positive.
Another area that Bohannon's intended return boosts is Iowa's ball-handling. Bohannon has 504 career assists and, even if he plays more of Iowa's "2" guard position, he could still make a realistic run at Jeff Horner's school-record 612.
The Bohannon news could also prove to be an incentive for Garza's upcoming decision. Garza, the reigning Big Ten player of the year after averaging 23.9 points a game as a junior, has national-championship aspirations for the Hawkeyes. And although that is a lofty goal for any program (particularly one that hasn't even been to a Sweet 16 since 1999), a top eight of Garza, Bohannon, Wieskamp, CJ Fredrick, Connor and Patrick McCaffery, Joe Toussaint and Nunge could provide the foundation for a special season.