Iowa basketball at full strength ahead of 2020-21 campaign

Head coach Fran McCaffery had high praise for all of his athletes at his press conference Monday – especially those returning from injury.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery speaks during men’s basketball media day in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The Hawkeyes open up their season with an exhibition game against William Jewell College on Friday, Oct. 27. at 7 p.m. in Carver. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa men’s basketball head coach Fran McCaffery said at a Monday press conference that all his players are ready for the upcoming season – even if the Hawkeyes’ official schedule has yet to be released.

On Sept. 16, the NCAA announced that the men’s and women’s basketball seasons will begin Nov. 25.

In the hours before McCaffery spoke, the Associated Press released its first top 25 poll of the season. McCaffery’s Hawkeyes were ranked fifth in the nation.

The ranking was, in part, garnered because three Hawkeyes that were injured in 2019-20 are returning in 2020-21 to help reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Luka Garza pursue regular season and postseason glory.

Forward Jack Nunge suffered an ACL injury last November after starting five games – Nunge averaged six points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

“Jack’s been terrific,” McCaffery said. “He looks great health wise, he’s in great shape physically, he’s been lifting now for a better part of two years even though he had an injury. So, his upper body looks really terrific. [He’s a] shooter, skilled big guy who can play multiple positions. He’s a shot-blocker, tremendous low post defender. He’s a runner, he can stretch the floor and he can really pass so we’re really excited about getting [him] back.”

A player who missed even more time than Nunge last year was forward Patrick McCaffery, who sat out most of the season while he battled “residual health issues” related to his 2014 battle with thyroid cancer.

“[Patrick is] playing really well,” Fran said. “He had a little pulled muscle, so he didn’t practice on Saturday, but he’s been out there most of the days. Shooting it well, playing it well, attacking, physically he looks great. He’s up to 205 [pounds] which is huge for him. It’s hard to play at this league at 182 [pounds] where I think he played in high school, so it’ll be perfect for us.”

Guard Jordan Bohannon is also coming back from injury. He played 10 games last season before undergoing season-ending hip surgery. Bohannon averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 assists per game when he was active last season.

Fran also noted that guard C.J. Frederick is good-to-go. Frederick played in 25 games in 2019-20, averaging just over 10.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. The sophomore guard underwent foot surgery in July.

One player that will also aid Garza is forward Joe Wieskamp. The Muscatine, Iowa, native has been a staple in the Hawkeyes’ lineup for the past two season – starting in all 66 games he’s played in his collegiate career.

Wieskamp was Iowa’s second-leading scorer in 2019-20, posting 14 points per game. Wieskamp’s Big Ten best 85.6 percent free throw accuracy and team-high 52 3-pointers helped him hit that points per game benchmark.

“He’s really worked on his ball handling, his attacking the basket, his shooting – he’s a great shooter but he really works on it so he’s been shooting the ball better so he’s going to be a really aggressive offensive player his junior year and now he’s physically ready to be one of the lead players in the country.”