Bohannon's Decision Is Ahead, But There Is Confidence He Can Play

John Bohnenkamp

IOWA CITY — Let’s not talk about the hip just yet.

Let’s talk about Jordan Bohannon’s beard.

Neatly trimmed, although the Iowa senior guard admitted it was “really shaggy” this summer when he was recovering from hip surgery.

Now?

“More professional,” Bohannon said.

It’s a good look, but there is one person who isn’t so sure.

“My mom’s not a big fan of it,” Bohannon said. “But I’m going to go with it. I’m 22 years old now. I can do what I want.”

“I know his mom hates it,” teammate and roommate Ryan Kriener said. “I don’t care. I’ve seen him baby-faced, I’ve seen it bushed out. I’ve seen it trimmed.”

Kriener and Bohannon joked about maybe keeping the beard through the full season, then shave it on Senior Night.

“It would be funny,” Kriener said.

Here’s the thing — Bohannon may or may not be playing on Senior Night this season.

So, now, back to the hip.

The right hip that bothered him all of last season was surgically repaired in May. The recovery was expected to be somewhere around six months, maybe longer, and Bohannon said before the surgery he would not play this season if he was not totally healthy.

Well, it’s October, the season is almost here, and it sounded at the Hawkeyes’ media day on Wednesday as if the confidence is still there that Bohannon could play.

“You know, he's at practice,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “He is not practicing, but he is doing things on the floor. He is running. He's shooting. Not doing a lot of cutting, a little bit. Certainly with no defense, no physical contact. We certainly don't want him getting knocked to the floor on a drive to the basket, anything like that. So we're being very careful with him. Maybe another week or two he'll be back out there I think trying to go full tilt, and we'll see where it is at that time.”

“I think it’s giving me a little bit of an itch, being on the sidelines and working out individually,” Bohannon said. “Seeing the guys collectively practicing, it’s making me want to be out there and try to contribute as much as possible. That’s kind of my mindset — I want to help the team as much as possible.

“If I’m able to play, I’ll play.”

Bohannon, who averaged 11.6 points last season and has averaged 12 points per game for his career, is the Iowa record holder in 3-pointers, the king of big shots in big moments. Iowa went 23-12 last season and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament a season after winning just 14 games, and Bohannon was a big part of that run. He hit the game-winning 3-pointer in a home victory over Northwestern, scored 17 points in the second half and overtime for a home win over Indiana, and had the last 11 points in a road win over the Hoosiers.

But Bohannon played the season in pain after injuring his hip in an exhibition game, and after the Hawkeyes’ loss to Tennessee to end the season, knew something had to be done.

“When you get on the court, you don’t feel it too much, because the adrenaline is going through your body,” he said. “I did everything I could.

“It was a lot of pain. I probably took more a little more ibuprofen than I probably should have, after games and before games. It got me through it.”

The recovery from the surgery — part of a bone was shaved and a labral tear was repaired in the procedure — tested Bohannon.

“I wasn’t able to do anything,” said Bohannon, who said he was “bedridden” for those first couple of weeks. “And that was tough. It definitely took a toll on me mentally. I’m still trying to get back.

“I was thinking I was never going to walk again. I think once I took my first couple of steps, started moving … the first day I started running was a big relief for me.”

“I sent him a care package,” Kriener said, laughing. “Some of his favorite snacks. And a bike bell so he could ring it and his mom would have to come help him.”

There has been a patience to Bohannon’s recovery, which wasn’t difficult because it was the summer and there weren’t games to be played.

But now, the Hawkeyes are a week through practice. The season is less than a month away.

“It’s hard for me to gauge when my body will be ready,” Bohannon said. “It’s really just up to my body to decide when I’m ready to play. I’ve been feeling good, I’ve been working out quite a bit, my conditioning is where it should be. I’m feeling good.”

Kriener knows what he saw in Bohannon when he was cleared to work in conditioning drills.

“He was like a dog biting at the end of a chain,” Kriener said. “He’s like, ‘I’m going to do it.’”

It’s not a decision that needs to be made right away. Bohannon can play in 30 percent of the Hawkeyes’ games, but none in the second half of the season, and still get a medical redshirt season from the NCAA.

That’s not something Bohannon trusts.

“You can never leave it up to the NCAA,” he said. “They’ll throw a curveball at you, no matter what. That’s a big thing on my mind as well. You hate to say it, but it’s the truth.”

"The bigger question might be, ‘Is that the smartest thing to do?’” McCaffery said. "Yeah, we can sneak him in a few games and maybe he gets 18 and we win a game. I think he's got to decide are you playing, are we going to give it a go, really going to give it a go and see if it responds the way that we hoped it would, because remember, we said it's a 5-to-9-month rehab, so all of a sudden he starts to play and then he's realizing ‘I'm still in pain and I can't move the way I wanted to move, I want to shut it down,’ and then we can do that."

Bohannon also has the concern that maybe sitting out the beginning of the season and coming into the rotation might affect his teammates.

“I also told Coach this, I don’t want to affect the team in a negative way. I don’t want to affect the flow of the team,” he said. “If we have a lot of positive things going on with the team, I don’t want to ruin that.”

There is no set deadline, Bohannon said. The decision can be kicked down the road for now.

Kriener thinks he knows the answer.

“He’s my roommate, he’s a competitor. I think he’s playing,” Kriener said. Coach is saying, ‘We’ll see.’ Jordan is saying, ‘I’ll see how my hip is.’

“I think he’s playing.”

“Me being me, I want to be out on the floor with the guys,” Bohannon said. “I’m going to try to get out there and play.

“Whatever happens, happens.”

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