With a roster in flux, Fran McCaffery's 10th season at Iowa could be a huge challenge

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Jordan Bohannon

By Pat Harty

IOWA CITY, Iowa - With Jordan Bohannon’s status for next season now uncertain, the addition-by-subtraction narrative in regard to the roster for the Iowa men’s basketball team can now just go away.

It was one thing for Iowa to lose Tyler Cook to what he hopes is the NBA and Maishe Dailey and Isaiah Moss to the transfer route.

But to also lose Bohannon for next season, which could happen if his soon-to-be surgically repaired hip doesn’t heal fast enough, is a whole different story.

Bohannon told the Des Moines Register that he wants to be 100 percent for his senior season, and if that isn’t possible for next season, then he would redshirt and play as a fifth-year senior in the 2020-21 season.

It takes anywhere from five to nine months to recover from this kind of hip surgery, and Iowa starts practice in about five months.

So it is easy to convince yourself that Bohannon ultimately will choose to redshirt next season.

And should that happen, Fran McCaffery will be faced with the monumental challenge of having to replace four of his five starters from last season, and five of his top six players from last season if you include departed senior forward Nicholas Baer.

The backcourt without Bohannon, Moss and Dailey would include 6-5 sophomore point guard Connor McCaffery, who is Fran McCaffery’s son, 6-3 redshirt freshman guard C.J. Fredrick and 5-10 incoming freshman point guard Joe Touissant.

Connor McCaffery showed flashes last season as a pass-first floor general, while Fredrick has supposedly made incredible progress since coming to Iowa, according to the always positive Fran McCaffery.

And with Toussiant, Iowa finally has that quick and explosive point guard who can defend and get to the basket.

But there still is no substitute for experience and Iowa will have little in the backcourt without Bohannon.

Iowa relies heavily on the 3-point shot, but that could change without the 6-foot-1 Bohannon and the 6-5 Moss leading the way.

Bohannon is one of the top 3-point shooters in the Big Ten and he often saves his best for when the game is on the line. He also rarely misses from the free throw line, which gives Iowa a valuable weapon late in games.

Moss shot over 40 percent from 3-point range last season, and was Iowa’s best scorer in transition and its best at creating his own shot.

Assuming Joe Wieskamp comes back from testing the NBA draft process, the 6-6 sophomore forward is a proven 3-point shooter at this level.

Junior center Luka Garza also has made some big shots from 3-point range, but the pickings are slim after him.

The hope is that Fredrick will contribute from 3-point range, and there is reason for optimism based on his high school accomplishments.

Fredrick made a school-record 107 treys as a senior at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. He also shot 48.4 percent from 3-point range as a senior, which was third best in school history.

But making 3-pointers against high school competition is much different than them making them against high-level college competition.

So the jury still is out on Fredrick.

As for Wieskamp, imagine the level of misery if he shocked everyone by leaving for the NBA as a freshman.

Fran McCaffery would suddenly be faced with a major rebuilding project, if he isn’t already.

Wieskamp is certainly a talented player and he appears to have NBA potential.

But there is little to suggest that he would be selected in the two-round draft, and it seems more likely that Wieskamp will return for at least another season.

Bohannon could also return because a lot can happen in five months.

But if he decides to redshirt, some are already saying that next season will be a lost season for the Hawkeyes.

Fran McCaffery still has two available scholarships to use for next season, but there isn’t much from which to choose right now.

That could change because the transfer portal is always a fluid situation and McCaffery recently said that he’s still recruiting for next season.

Connor McCaffery would likely start at point guard without Bohannon, so that could present a recruiting challenge for his father as some schools will use Iowa’s father-and-son relationship as a reason not to attend Iowa.

There will be another McCaffery on the roster next season with the addition of 6-8 forward Patrick McCaffery, who is the second oldest of Fran McCaffery’s four children.

The situation at Iowa is very unusual with two sons playing for their father, and it would be naïve to think that other schools don’t use that against Iowa in recruiting.

Fran McCaffery said recently on KCJJ radio that he assumes that other schools try to use the presence of his sons against him in recruiting because that’s the nature of the business.

McCaffery is preparing for his 10th season as head coach and he has momentum after leading Iowa to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and to 23 wins last season.

But he also has a roster in flux and a fan base with many now thinking the worst about next season.