Citing anxiety issues, Patrick McCaffery taking leave of absence from Iowa basketball

Chad Leistikow
Des Moines Register

Iowa junior basketball player Patrick McCaffery will step away from the court for an indefinite leave of absence to address anxiety, the university said in a late-Tuesday news release.

McCaffery, who is averaging 12.8 points and 4.8 rebounds a game, will not play in Thursday’s 8 p.m. home game against 19th-ranked Indiana, the preseason Big Ten Conference favorite. In a revealing statement, McCaffery said he would not return to basketball until he felt like himself.

“I have been battling anxiety for a while, and recently it has peaked, which has inhibited my preparation and performance on the court,” McCaffery said. “It’s not fair to myself or teammates to be on the court when I am not myself. The anxiety has affected my sleep, appetite and stamina, which has resulted in not having the energy level necessary to compete at my full capabilities. My struggle with anxiety affects every aspect of my well-being and makes it incredibly difficult to function normally. This is what I am battling right now. For this reason, I am taking an indefinite leave to address my situation.”

McCaffery clarified that the anxiety is not related to his past battle with thyroid cancer.

Of course, his father – Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery – is completely supportive of his son’s decision.

“Patrick is one of the millions of people who battle through anxiety on a daily basis,” Fran McCaffery said in a statement. “It has become more noticeable on and off the court over the past couple weeks. Patrick has the full support of his family, coaches, teammates and administration as he fights through this. All of us admire his courage and willingness to be open about this struggle. And we hope others know that they are not alone. We will be with him every step of the way.”

McCaffery entered the season as one of the Hawkeyes’ most dynamic scorers and has had some eye-popping performances. He scored 21 points in an early season win against Clemson, then hit for a career-high 24 in an overtime loss against Wisconsin. McCaffery followed that game with a 20-point performance against Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 17.

Patrick McCaffery, right, was held to five points on 1-for-6 shooting at Penn State in Sunday's 83-79 loss.

But in the three games since, McCaffery has shot a combined 5-for-30 from the floor, including 2-for-15 from 3-point range, and averaged 6.7 points in losses to Eastern Illinois, Nebraska and Penn State. The Hawkeyes are 8-6 overall and 0-3 in Big Ten play.

More than likely, Iowa will turn to Patrick’s older brother, sixth-year senior Connor McCaffery, to fill the void in Iowa’s starting lineup going forward.

“It might be two games, it may be four games, it may be more,” Patrick McCaffery said in his statement. “But I will return when I feel like myself.”