Bohannon Leaves A Message, But It's Not Goodbye

Jordan Bohannon's shoes were left on the Hilton Coliseum court after Thursday's 84-68 win over Iowa State. (Reese Strickland/USA Today Sports)

John Bohnenkamp

AMES, Iowa — The hug, Ryan Kriener said, was a little longer than usual.

It’s a routine that the Iowa senior forward and teammate Jordan Bohannon have before any game.

They’re best friends — they came to Iowa in the same recruiting class, and they’ve been roommates.

This hug was different.

Because Iowa’s 84-68 win over Iowa State on Thursday night at Hilton Coliseum might have been the last game for Bohannon this season.

It was Bohannon’s 10th game, which meant he was at the limit to be able to apply to the NCAA for a medical redshirt season if he decides he is done for the season. The senior guard is still trying to get back from offseason hip surgery. That comeback, he said, hasn’t been easy.

“A lot of tears, a lot of blood and sweat, to get to this point,” Bohannon said.

It’s why the hug between Kriener and Bohannon lingered.

“We’re really close,” Kriener said. “We’ve been playing together since we were in high school.”

He paused.

“It’s one of those things,” Kriener said, “that’s a lot bigger than basketball.”

If this was it — and Bohannon repeated what he said earlier this week, that everything is “day to day,” so he’s not sure — then this was a fun, yet emotional, way to go out.

Bohannon has played the villain this week in this rivalry that always needs a bad guy. He had an exchange with former Iowa State player Georges Niang on Twitter in the hours before the game — “All in fun,” Bohannon said — and oh, did he hear it from the Iowa State fans during the game.

Which is why, when he made two free throws with 46 seconds left, Bohannon looked toward the ISU student section and blew a kiss, copying the Niang taunt from a few years ago.

“I’m always about trolling,” Bohannon said, smiling. “I’m always about getting stuff stirred.”

Oh, it was stirred.

Bohannon finished with 12 points. It wasn’t anywhere close to his best shooting night — 2-of-12 from the field, 2-of-7 in 3-pointers. But he had five rebounds and three assists, bits and pieces in a victory built on bits and pieces from everyone.

Bohannon has said he wants to feel “right,” and if he doesn’t, this season is over.

He's far from right.

Asked after the game how much pain he’s in, Bohannon said, “Quite a bit. I’m not going to lie to you.”

But he still hopes. Why make a decision now, he said? He could wake up some time in the upcoming week as the Hawkeyes’ playing/practice schedule eases with finals, and feel better.

Or, it could hurt to the point where he decides — maybe next week, maybe in a few weeks after sitting out a couple of games — that he’s done. Wait until next year.

Jordan Bohannon signs his shoes as he leaves the Hilton Coliseum court after Thursday's win over Iowa State. (Reese Strickland/USA Today Sports)

“Whatever he decides,” Kriener said, and let the thought linger.

“He’s one of my closest friends,” Bohannon said. “He’s going to support me, no matter what my decision is.”

Bohannon said he wanted to enjoy the win — it was the first for the Hawkeyes in Hilton Coliseum since 2003. His decision can wait.

Bohannon, of course, wasn’t going to go quietly. As he left the court, he stopped and took off his shoes, grabbed a pen, and signed them before leaving them behind.

“To ISU,” the message said, “Thanks for the memz.” He added a smiley face.

“I kind of wanted to say something short and sweet,” Bohannon said. “There wasn’t a lot of room on the shoes.”

“I think Jordan wanted to leave his name known,” Iowa center Luka Garza said.

Garza knew the response Bohannon had received all week on social media, and all night while on the court.

“He’s a type who is always going to respond to that,” Garza said.

The response was a kiss, and a goodbye to the Hilton. Bohannon isn’t coming back, whether he stays and keeps playing, or waits until next season.

The last words, at least for this night, were scrawled on a pair of Nikes.

“That’s what makes a rivalry like this so great,” Bohannon said.

He smiled.

“It’s all in good fun,” he said.