By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Fran McCaffery gets asked a lot of questions about his starting point guard Jordan Bohannon.
One question seems to get asked more than other, and I should know because I’ve asked it a few times myself about Bohannon.
Is there a part of his game that has surprised McCaffery, perhaps Bohannon’s scrappiness or durability?
That question was asked again on Friday during a teleconference.
The 6-foot Bohannon already has set the UI single-season record for most 3-point baskets by a freshman and is coming off a game at Minnesota on Wednesday in which played 45 minutes and committed just one turnover during a 101-89 double-overtime loss.
“A lot of people have sort of asked me that question and I kind of keep saying the same thing,” I’m not surprised,” McCaffery said. “It’s kind of what I expected.”
McCaffery didn’t just make a wild assumption about Bohannon, who was a prolific scorer at Linn-Mar High School.
McCaffery had studied Bohannon’s game up close and personal. He had watched Bohannon compete against McCaffery's two sons at the high school level and on the AAU circuit.
McCaffery’s oldest son, Connor McCaffery, is a senior at West High and a future Iowa basketball player, while Patrick McCaffery is a 6-8 sophomore at West and also a future Hawkeye.
Fran McCaffery had an advantage over other college coaches when it came to evaluating Bohannon because McCaffery could watch as the father of two players and as a head coach. McCaffery watched Bohannon’s game evolve in high school to where McCaffery felt comfortable offering him a scholarship, while most other power five teams stayed away.
“Sometimes in recruiting you go after somebody and you don’t get them and then you get involved with a guy that you think you really like,” McCaffery said. “And you’ve only seen him a couple times and you don’t really know him. Then they come and sometimes they’re great and sometimes they’re not as good as you thought. The truth is you’re not one-hundred percent sure because you had more limited opportunities to see that guy.
“I had more than enough opportunities to see Jordan Bohannon. I’ve seen him with his high school team. I’ve seen him with his AAU team. I’ve seen him (AAU) practice when he’s playing against my sons. I’ve had the luxury of being able to go see him at times when coaches aren’t allowed because I’m at my son’s workout and they’re playing against each other. So you know a person’s makeup. But you also know his basketball intellect.”
McCaffery saw enough of Bohannon to feel confident that Bohannon could handle whatever came his way at the Big Ten level.
The Big Ten grind will continue on Saturday when Iowa plays Michigan State at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
“The last thing I was worried about with him was his makeup and his basketball IQ,” McCaffery said of Bohannon, whose three older brothers also played Division I college basketball. “So it doesn’t matter what they to do him. It doesn’t matter who they send after him. It’s not going to matter.”
McCsffery has missed on a few high-profile point guards since coming to Iowa, most notably Tyler Ulis, who played two seasons at Kentucky before turning professional.
Chicago point guard Charlie Moore also considered Iowa before singing with California, where he is now a freshman.
They both would have been nice additions, but Bohannon has made it easier to forget about what might have been.
Bohannon started the season as the backup to 6-6 sophomore Christian Williams at point guard. McCaffery then inserted Bohannon as the starter in the seventh game and Bohannon has since solidified himself as Iowa's top point guard.
Bohannon’s scoring ability and his ability to make 3-point shots from a ridiculous range gives Iowa a dimension it hasn’t had for a while at point guard.
Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons both were solid point guards for Iowa in the previous four seasons, but they lacked Bohannon’s shooting ability.
I watched enough of Bohannon in high school to believe that he could be a 3-point threat for the Hawkeyes. He has a quick release and good elevation on his shot. He also shoots well in traffic, stationary or in transition.
It was the other parts of Bohannon’s game that worried me, namely his ball handling, passing and defense.
He has struggled at times on defense while facing some of the top guards in the Big Ten such as Maryland’s Melo Trimble, Nebraska’s Glynn Watson and Minnesota’s Nate Mason. But the other parts of Bohannon’s game have been rock solid.
McCaffery expects that to continue.
“He’ll study the scouting report and he’ll understand the challenges that the next game presents and he’ll figure it out and he’ll go out there and perform well,” McCaffery said. “He’s throw the ball to people who are open. And he’s going to shoot it when he’s open. He’s going to make shots. He’s going to make free throws. And he’s not going to make a ton of mistakes. That’s what he is going to do.”
Bohannon also benefits from being the youngest of four brothers, all of whom played basketball at a high level. His oldest brother Jason Bohannon was a standout guard for Wisconsin. Middle brother Zach also played for the Badgers, while Matt Bohannon was a star guard at Northern Iowa, who used up his eligibility last season.
Bohannon's father, Gordy Bohannon, was also the starting quarterback for Iowa's 1982 Rose Bowl team.
His four sons chose to pursue basketball, but did so with the same energy and enthusiam that Gordy displayed in football.
Jordan Bohannon was mostly overlooked as a recruit, except for by the one coach who saw him the most.
McCaffery liked what he saw, and now we know why.