IOWA CITY — Cordell Pemsl brought his dog to an interview session at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday.
The dog, an 8-year-old Standard Poodle named Lucy was a model of good behavior, making nary a peep. However, Iowa men’s basketball forward Pemsl talked plenty. All of it was what Hawkeye fans should enjoy hearing.
He said he feels 100 percent after December knee surgery that forced him to take a medical redshirt season.
“It’s probably the best decision I ever made,” Pemsl said.
“I just don’t have that nagging pain any more.”
The Hawkeyes need as many healthy veteran players as possible for the 2019-20 season. Pemsl’s fellow juniors of last season are departed or recovering from their own surgery.
However, Fran McCaffery has other roster members back after watching last season’s 23-win team from the sideline. Forward Jack Nunge and guard CJ Fredrick took redshirt years to hone their games. Pemsl was forced into his redshirt by a knee that required its third surgery. Fun, that wasn’t.
“I know there were situations last year when I felt my game and my skill set could probably have helped us in certain ways,” Pemsl said.
It’s easy to forget players when they’ve been out a year. Pemsl was a rotation player for Iowa immediately after joining the Hawkeyes out of Dubuque Wahlert. He played in 34 games and started 14 as a freshman, averaging 8.9 points and 5.0 rebounds, and made 61.7 percent of his field goal tries. He averaged 5.7 points and 4.5 points in 32 games as a sophomore.
After Iowa’s first game of last season, Pemsl announced he would have season-ending knee surgery. But he reconsidered a few weeks later, and played against Iowa State on Dec. 6. He was his team’s spirit animal in that game, getting eight points and six rebounds in 16 minutes in Iowa’s 98-84 win and mixing it up with the Cyclones’ Michael Jacobson after Jacobson had a brief altercation with Iowa guard Connor McCaffery.
That game was a reminder Pemsl was a player. But the story didn’t have a happy ending.
“It was a weird situation, obviously,” Pemsl said. “That was a game I felt like I was able to showcase multiple facets of my game, do multiple things in order to help us win.
“I was hoping I possibly wouldn’t feel that discomfort or at least as consistently as I was. But a couple days after the game, it just wasn’t the same. I had to shut it down.”
Today, though, Pemsl is happy and healthy, cleared to go full-bore in summer workouts and ready to be a veteran presence on a team that can use it.
“It’s my dog from home, keeping me company over the summer,” Pemsl said. Taking care of it, he said, is a “little of an adult role.”
Good dog, good knee. Good summer.
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