Iowa starting guard CJ Fredrick leaving program, enters transfer portal

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

CJ Fredrick, who once loved the idea of playing basketball for Iowa and coach Fran McCaffery so much that he was willing to walk on rather than accept Division I scholarships elsewhere, is leaving the Hawkeyes' program after three years.

Fredrick on Monday entered the NCAA’s transfer portal. A source with direct knowledge of Fredrick's decision had confirmed the development to the Des Moines Register on Sunday night, and Fredrick's name appeared in the portal about 12 hours later.

In a statement, Fredrick said after talking with McCaffery, "I have come to the difficult decision to participate in the (transfer-portal) process. Thank you Coach McCaffery and the entire basketball staff, all my teammates and Hawkeye Nation for giving me a chance. I gave you my best and appreciate you letting me be a part of Hawkeye Nation!"

Iowa acknowledged Fredrick's decision with a one-sentence press release: "Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery announced Monday that junior guard CJ Fredrick has submitted his name in the NCAA transfer portal."

After a redshirt year, Fredrick played in 52 games for Iowa over two seasons and started all 52. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard from Cincinnati instantly became a valuable asset for McCaffery. He led the Big Ten Conference in 3-point shooting as a freshman, connecting on 47 of 102 attempts from long range (46.1%). He was even better as a redshirt sophomore, canning 47.4% (36 of 76) in 27 games.

Although Fredrick’s career scoring average is a modest 8.8 points a game, this is a significant loss for the Hawkeyes.

First, he might have been the team’s top scoring option for the 2021-22 season. With all-American Luka Garza off to the pros and Jack Nunge gone to Xavier plus the potential, if not probable, losses of Joe Wieskamp and Jordan Bohannon as well, Fredrick would’ve been a catalyst for McCaffery’s 12th Hawkeye team. Now, Iowa is in jeopardy of being completely void of accomplished outside shooters.

Iowa’s backcourt just got a lot younger and a lot more unproven. Joe Toussaint is the most experienced known piece, and he has a two-year scoring average of 5.1 points and shoots just 39.4%. Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins played limited minutes for a Hawkeye team that achieved its highest NCAA Tournament seed (No. 2) since 1987, but for now they will have to become important players. Collectively, that trio is 15-for-54 from 3-point range (27.8%) in their careers. (Iowa does expect to have 6-5 senior Connor McCaffery, who started at the "4" position but can handle the point-guard spot, back by October after multiple hip surgeries. But he isn't a consistent threat from the outside, either.)

CJ Fredrick (5) shot 46.6% from 3-point range during his Hawkeye career.

Second, Fredrick was a McCaffery guy. His uncle, Joe, played at Notre Dame when McCaffery was an assistant there in the late 1980s. Fredrick was a late bloomer, one of the reasons McCaffery was able to gain the inside track on Fredrick’s services. When Fredrick led Covington Catholic High School to the Kentucky state championship as a senior (Kentucky awards only one state champion, there are no classifications), McCaffery’s recruitment of Fredrick looked like a steal and was a testament to his strong connection to Joe Fredrick. CJ Fredrick was Kentucky’s 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year.

But now CJ Fredrick is ready for a new chapter, after the Hawkeyes exited the NCAA Tournament in the round of 32 with a disheartening 95-80 loss to seventh-seeded Oregon. Fredrick didn’t score in that game and didn’t play the final 17 minutes, 44 seconds. He was hampered by plantar fasciitis for the final three months of the season and missed four full games and parts of others with the injury.

Fredrick was burdened by injuries throughout his Iowa playing career. As a redshirt freshman, he missed six games with issues with his quad, foot and ankle.

McCaffery said during a Wednesday media availability that Fredrick would not need surgery for his latest injury. 

With a free year of eligibility due to COVID-19, Fredrick will have up to three years' eligibility at his next school.