IOWA CITY — Iowa freshman Connor McCaffery’s freshman season remains a roller coaster of uncertainty and unpredictability.
Wednesday brought another unexpected turn, as the Iowa athletic department announced the son of head coach Fran McCaffery would be out “for an indeterminate period of time” following a tonsillectomy Wednesday morning as a result of “recurrent bouts of throat infections and his recent case of mononucleosis.”
Connor has already missed 10 games this season thanks to a sprained ankle during practice between the second exhibition and season-opener, and then the aforementioned mono.
It’s the latter that has lingered since his return, leaving the freshman repeatedly exhausted and limited as to situations in which he could be used. Connor has played in four games, averaging 13.3 minutes per game. He scored five points in his debut against Southern, then added three points against Colorado last Friday.
After making that debut on Dec. 10 — playing a surprise 17 minutes in a blowout win in which both teams were playing zone at the end — Connor gave a little insight into how he was feeling.
“The recovery is something I’m still working on,” Connor said after the Southern game. “I want to help in any way that I can.
“I hope it’s soon, but I don’t know for sure. There’s varying lengths of how long they say it can linger.”
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That message remained the same in the last two weeks, as did speculation about still being able to receive a medical redshirt.
Connor’s first year at Iowa was supposed to come with a redshirt to begin with, but Christian Williams’ transfer changed that course before the season. Almost as soon as the official decision was made for Connor to pull the redshirt and play this year, the injuries and illnesses started.
The discussion around the redshirt being put back on the table has not been silenced by Fran, who has been asked about it in every midweek media availability since Connor’s return. By NCAA rule, Connor can play in 10 games in the first half of the season and still be eligible for a medical redshirt.
“It’s not my call, your call or anyone else’s call, it’s what the doctors deem,” Fran said ahead of the Drake game. “He’s not anywhere near, physically, where he needs to be. We’ll see if he can get that done in the next couple weeks.”
Since Fran offered those thoughts the week before the Drake game on Dec. 16, he’s addressed it again. Last week, before the trip to Sioux Falls, S.D., to face Colorado, Fran added an update, and foreshadowed a medical update during the week break following the Christmas holiday.
“He’s capable of giving us a few minutes, but he’s not coming around like we’d hoped,” Fran said. “It was a really bad case, so the conditioning is not coming quickly at all, unfortunately.
“After this game (against Colorado) we’ll see where that is and let the doctors decide where we go from here.”
Connor’s absence leaves Iowa with just three healthy scholarship guards in Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss and Maishe Dailey. Brady Ellingson sprained his ankle against Southern Utah, tried to go against Colorado but played around one minute before going back to the bench, unable to play on the injured right ankle.
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Iowa plays its 15th game of the season against Northern Illinois on Friday, and has 31 scheduled in the regular season. If Connor plays in any game after the resumption of Big Ten play against Michigan, a medical redshirt would not be available, per the NCAA rule about the games being played in the first half of the season.
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