INDIANAPOLIS — Connor McCaffery’s return to the basketball court included a return to the baseball field.
The Iowa senior guard has been a two-sport athlete throughout his time with the Hawkeyes, but missed all of the spring baseball season after undergoing offseason surgeries on both hips.
He’s back practicing with the Hawkeyes for basketball, but he also joined Iowa’s baseball team for the fall schedule.
The chance to play baseball helped him in the rehabilitation process, McCaffery said.
“I think it was really good in terms of my rehab, because I had that date in my head,” McCaffery said on Thursday at the Big Ten’s basketball media day. “‘OK, we come back to August 23, 24 whatever, I wanted to be ready by September 1 for baseball.’So I had a date I was working to all summer — ‘I’m going to be ready by September 1.’ And I was.
“I think the fact that I had baseball, I had that fall season to kind of base that on, it got me ready for basketball as well. Would I have pushed myself otherwise? Yeah. But I’m very much a schedule set-in-time person.”
Fran McCaffery, Iowa’s coach and Connor’s father, left it up to his son about whether to play baseball or continue working to get back from basketball.
“I think it was good for him to come back, do what he loves to do but also, physically, figure it out,” Fran said. “It’s two serious surgeries. So it’s one thing to come back and play basketball, it’s another thing to come back and play baseball. He kind of had to relearn some things on the baseball field, so it hasn’t been easy for him.”
Connor said the rehabilitation process was “definitely a grind.”
“I’m not going to lie about that,” he said. “It’s been definitely tough. It’s not comfortable in any way, but it needs to be done.”
Connor received plenty of advice from teammate Jordan Bohannon, who also had surgeries on his hips.
“I think the fact that I was able to go through that process, I tried to help him along the way as much as I could,” Bohannon said. “He was pretty good about his work ethic, wanting to heal up as quickly as possible.”
Bohannon’s rehabilitation was different — he had surgery on one hip during the summer before the 2019-20 season, then had the second surgery in December that ended his season.
“I think he did it the smart way, getting them both done at once,” Bohannon said. “He did a good job of sticking with it.”
“They said (the rehabilitation process would take) 4-6 months after the surgery,” Connor said. “I was playing at around 3 ½ (months), that range.”
McCaffery started all 31 games for the Hawkeyes last season, averaging 3.3 points and 3.1 rebounds while averaging 22.7 minutes per game. His 3.73 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked fourth nationally.
“He’s been doing a great job in practice of screening, passing, playing different positions,” Bohannon said.
The surgeries, Connor said, were a success.
“I feel a lot more strong,” Connor said. “I feel athletic, feel faster. Not that I’m a high flyer in the first place, but you know what I mean.”