Fran McCaffery weighs in on transfer portal rules, future of guard Joe Wieskamp

During a virtual meeting with reporters Wednesday afternoon, McCaffery discussed what the future might hold for both junior Joe Wieskamp and college basketball as a whole.


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)

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

After Iowa men’s basketball suffered a season-ending, 95-80 loss to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32, Hawkeye guard Joe Wieskamp would not comment on his future in the Black and Gold.

At a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Hawkeye head coach Fran McCaffery said Wieskamp is still weighing his options.

McCaffery said Wieskamp is testing the waters of the NBA Draft, but has yet to fully commit to returning to Iowa or turning professional.

“Oh yeah, [Wieskamp is testing the waters of the NBA Draft], and he should,” McCaffery said. “We’ve had a number of discussions, Joe and I. We met with folks from the NBA office yesterday. In our best attempt to get [Wieskamp] the most accurate and up-to-date information, those discussions will be ongoing because that stuff gets updated, and you want him to have the best possible information he can have. His name’s in. You get their preliminary indication of where you stand, and then the next phase begins.”

“He’ll be invited, I’m sure, by a number of teams to try out, work out, and also interview, essentially,” McCaffery continued. “So, he’s got time to make his decision, and he needs to take whatever time he needs to come to that conclusion.”

Wieskamp went through the NBA Draft process after his freshman year of college too, ultimately deciding to return to Iowa. Though this time around, McCaffery believes Wieskamp’s game has improved enough to garner a selection from one of the NBA’s 30 teams in the league’s two-round, 60-pick draft.

“I would think [Wieskamp] would get an [NBA Draft Combine] invite,” McCaffery said. “He’s earned that … I think he will get drafted, and I think he’ll get a combine invite … I do think he took steps this year to really take his game to another level. I’m really impressed with how he worked and how he performed. I think he’s got the right mindset and the right personality and demeanor to compete at that level, and put the necessary time in to make it happen.”

“At the same time, he loves playing here,” McCaffery continued. “He loves being a Hawk, and he’ll go when he has all the information that he needs, or he’ll stay when he has all the information that he needs.”

Shortly after McCaffery’s press conference, Wieskamp tweeted a statement that confirmed he had entered his name in the NBA Draft pool.

McCaffery comments on NCAA Division I transfer rules

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, the NCAA Division I Council will meet and vote on a new rule that could give all college athletes the one-time ability to transfer from one school to another without penalty, according to the Associated Press. The proposed rule change is not COVID-19-related and is expected to be permanent.

Previously, if a student-athlete wanted to transfer from one school to another, they were forced to sit out for one season before they could play at their new institution.

If the new transfer rule is approved as expected, student-athletes will have one opportunity during their careers to transfer from one institution to another without being penalized. So, on a one-time basis, student-athletes will be immediately eligible to play at their new institutions after they transfer.

“Basically, we have free agency,” McCaffery said. “So, free agency is free agency. Guys go wherever they want.”

While McCaffery does have his doubts about the proposed transfer rules, he understands that it may allow him to fill some of his 2021-22 roster’s holes — particularly in the post. As currently structured, McCaffery’s team only boasts one player over 6-foot-8 — 6-foot-10 center Josh Ogundele, who played just 18 minutes in 2020-21.

“It’s definitely different,” McCaffery said. “We obviously have to address the post position. You know, with [senior center Luka Garza] graduating and [6-foot-11 sophomore Jack Nunge transferring]. So, that’s a priority … We’ll get the roster where we need it to be. But right now, it’s focusing on the guys that are here, and then also trying to see what post players are gonna enroll.”

The proposed transfer rules may help the Hawkeyes short-term, but McCaffery fears the long-term effects college basketball  may feel if the transfer rules are approved and implemented.

“It will change so much,” McCaffery said. How we build our program. It’ll change things for the fan base that, you know, really enjoys watching a player come in as a freshman, continue to get better. We’re going to continue to try to do the best we can to build it that way. But again, guys may leave, and then you gotta replace them. You replace them with somebody from high school. You replace them with somebody in the portal. We have occasionally signed junior college guys. The team will fluctuate a lot more than it has in the past, but that’s where we’re at.”

McCaffery did not endorse or indict the proposed transfer rule, but he did question the need for a rule-change.

“I don’t understand what was wrong with the old rule,” McCaffery said. “If you decided you wanted to transfer, you could. If you decided you wanted to transfer, you did not lose eligibility. And if you transferred, you were able to assimilate into a new program, a new community, and have time to develop, and then, if you were so inclined, to take advantage of that extra year and advance yourself academically.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the old rule, but everybody was in a big hurry to change it, and this is what we have,” McCaffery continued. “So, again, rules change, laws change, we adjust. So, it’s gonna be a different look for pretty much everybody, and that’s what we’re dealt with right now.’

McCaffery provides injury updates on guards Connor McCaffery and C.J. Fredrick

Now-senior guard Connor McCaffery has successfully undergone the first of his two scheduled offseason hip surgeries, according to Fran McCaffery.  The Iowa City, Iowa, native tore labrums in both his hips during the 2020-21 season. Each tear will require its own surgery to repair.

“[Connor will be ready for the start of the 2021-22 season], no question,” Fran McCaffery said. “The first surgery went well. He’s walking now. He’s on the bike a little bit. His other [surgery] will be in a week. Then, he’ll be on crutches for a couple weeks. After that, that’ll be interesting when he’s had both surgeries. So, he’s trying to get the one leg strong enough to walk on with crutches after the other one gets done. So, that’ll be interesting. It’ll be a challenge … I think he’s anxious to get the next [surgery] behind him and get moving towards being back out there on the floor.”

Now-junior guard C.J. Fredrick suffered a lower leg injury during the latter half of the 2020-21 season. Fran McCaffery said Fredrick’s injury did not require offseason surgery to repair.

“[Fredrick] shut it down since the season ended,” McCaffery said. “He’s about a week away from being back out on the floor. He’s chomping at the bit. So, he’ll jump into workouts next week, and hopefully he’ll stay healthy.”

Bohannon’s future remains uncertain

Since 2016, guard Jordan Bohannon has donned the Black and Gold and competed for the Hawkeyes. Now, because of COVID-19, he’ll have the chance to do so again next season, as the NCAA granted all of its 2020-21 winter sports athletes an additional year of eligibility.

Bohannon previously stated via Twitter that he had not yet decided to stay at or leave the University of Iowa. Though, he did note that he would definitely return to Iowa for the 2021-22 season should Iowa Senate File 245 — a bill that would allow student-athletes to profit off their names, images, and likenesses — be approved.

The bill was not passed, so Bohannon’s future is still uncertain.

“He’s making that decision, and he’ll figure it out,” Fran McCaffery said. “When he does, we’ll have that conversation. We met after the season. We’re gonna meet again, probably in the next couple days or so, just to kinda get updated. You know, we want to see how he’s feeling. He finished the year with a problem in his shoulder. Want to make sure he’s doing OK with that. So, no decision there by him, but I’m sure that’ll come relatively soon.”

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