Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa basketball: Time for sharpshooting freshman CJ Fredrick to fire away

Jordan Bohannon's season is done. Hawkeyes need more 3-pointers from other sources

Iowa guard CJ Fredrick (5) drives past Oral Roberts' Kevin Obanor (0) and Deondre Burns (2) during a game at Carver-Hawk
Iowa guard CJ Fredrick (5) drives past Oral Roberts’ Kevin Obanor (0) and Deondre Burns (2) during a game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Nov. 15. (Cliff Jette/Freelance for The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — What if Iowa men’s basketball had been given the option of taking or leaving redshirt freshman guard CJ Fredrick averaging 10.5 points and 26.3 minutes per game with 56.7 percent shooting from the field?

Take, take, take, take, take.

Now the Hawkeyes want to take some more from him. Senior guard Jordan Bohannon had hip surgery Thursday morning, and the Hawkeyes are facing life after Jordan for the rest of this season. Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said the surgery was a success, by the way, and “I expect a full recovery by next season.”

But next season is next season. The Hawkeyes push ahead. They need more from those who remain, including a rookie who already is giving much.

More playing time is coming for first-year freshman Joe Toussaint and senior Bakari Evelyn in the backcourt, and for Ryan Kriener and Cordell Pemsl up front. Fredrick can’t play too many more minutes. Or can he?

“Yes, I can,” he said.

“I definitely think I have do a little bit more with Jordan being out, just continue to try to make more plays and continue to shoot more. I’m not a selfish guy, but my team has been really confident with me and basically telling me to shoot more. That’s a role I’m willing to accept.”

Fredrick is 18 of 35 from 3-point range. That’s 51.4 percent, which is really good for anyone, let alone a freshman. How good? If he had the minimum number of attempts per game to qualify for the national leaders, he’d rank seventh.

Without Bohannon — who has taken 26 more 3s than Fredrick but made just two more — the shots and perimeter threat have to come from others. That starts Saturday night in Chicago when the Hawkeyes play Cincinnati at the United Center. Why not put more on Fredrick’s plate?

“When I play I feel like I’ve been here two, three, four years,” Fredrick said. “I feel really at home here, I feel really comfortable. I almost feel like a vet in a way.

“Obviously, I still have a lot to learn.”

Maybe that isn’t obvious. Fredrick has 30 assists to just 11 turnovers. Again, those aren’t typical freshman numbers.

It isn’t as if he’s been snacking on a steady diet of SIU-Edwardsvilles and Cal Polys. He has played away from home against Texas Tech, San Diego State, Michigan.

“Big-time atmospheres,” he said. “Big games.

“Iowa State, when it was starting to make a little run to cut (Iowa’s second-half lead) to seven. That place was shaking. It was very loud. I just felt no pressure. I felt like I’ve been there before. I was just ready for the moment.”

And now, he’ll play Cincinnati in an NBA arena. Fredrick is from Cincinnati. He played in summer open gyms there against Bearcat senior star Jarron Cumberland when Fredrick was a high school kid. He was a fan of UC basketball growing up, but the Bearcats didn’t recruit him.

He doesn’t sound like he bears any grudges about that. He’s starting for a Big Ten team, after all, and as a freshman.

Bohannon’s gone until next season. Shoot more, Fredrick’s teammates tell him. Given how he’s played so far, it seems like sound advice.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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