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As it became known Jordan Bohannon was returning for another season with the Iowa men’s basketball team, the biggest question involved a different Hawkeye.
What about Joe Toussaint?
That issue has apparently been resolved, by Bohannon and Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery. While Toussaint never said anything to indicate he would hustle to the NCAA’s transfer portal as quickly as he gets from one end of the court to another, why would he want to spend another season as a backup point guard?
New York City’s Toussaint just finished his sophomore season with the Hawkeyes, averaging 11.3 minutes per game off the bench in backing up Bohannon at the point. That was after he started 20 games and averaged 17.9 minutes as a freshman in 2019-20, when Bohannon’s season ended in mid-December after he succumbed to a hip ailment that required surgery.
If the question was about gaining one more season of Bohannon to risk losing two more seasons of Toussaint, it wasn’t a question that required an answer. Toussaint can be a runaway train at times, but has the skills and athleticism to be a high-level major-college point guard.
“I kind of made the decision early on that I wasn’t going to come back,” Bohannon said Wednesday, “because I didn't want to impact Joe Toussaint and his development as a player and wanting him to get back to kind of go into the spotlight that he was when I was injured.”
McCaffery needed a 2-guard, or shooting guard, when CJ Fredrick caught McCaffery off guard by entering the NCAA’s transfer portal. McCaffery turned to someone who fit the bill, someone with 143 college games and 1,638 points under his belt with another year of eligibility thanks to the NCAA giving a one-year hall pass to its athletes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the things that Coach McCaffery said was that he wanted me to be more of a combo guard and so I would start at the 2 this year and let Toussaint take over that role of being a point guard and kind of run the team that way,” Bohannon said.
“I'll definitely still have the ball in my hands a lot, but I think my ability to move off the ball like I have a bunch of times throughout my career will create a different aspect to this team, and I think it will make us better in the long run.”
Iowa was going from a team that led the Big Ten in 3-point field goals per game with 9.7 to one with that was facing the prospect of losing its top four 3-point shooters.
Bohannon made 80 of his school-record 364 treys last season. Joe Wieskamp, who is trying to see where he fits in pro basketball before deciding his plans for the 2021-22 season, made 73, Luka Garza had 44, Fredrick 36. No one else had more than 18.
McCaffery needed an outside threat for next season. He could have tried to find one in the portal. But as Bob Dylan once sang, why wait any longer for the one you love when he's standing in front of you?
“Fran basically was re-recruiting me this past two weeks,” said Bohannon, “which is very weird because I'm 23 years old and I'm being re-recruited to be back in college.
“I really wasn't planning to come back. … Coach McCaffery got me in his office a couple of times and re-recruited me, laid down some framework of what he wanted this year from me.
“One of them was to be able to provide my leadership to the young guys that played last year and are going to experience arenas that are going to be hopefully full with fans. It’s a totally different game with that happening.”
Last season, it was Garza’s team. You’re the National Player of the Year, it’s your team. For now, in the season ahead, it’s sixth-year senior Bohannon, a senior newcomer in post player Filip Rebraca, and mostly sophomores and freshmen.
McCaffery, Bohannon said, “wants someone to be that guy to continue to provide leadership for what's about to happen.
“So I think that was a huge selling point for myself because I always think of myself as a leader.”
Some are born leaders, some achieve leadership, and some have leadership thrust upon them. Maybe it’s a little of all three with Bohannon. Now we’ll see what he does with it.
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