Cordell Pemsl Played Most of Freshman Season in Pain

June 19, 2017

Written by Rob Howe

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa – Nobody can question Cordell Pemsl’s toughness. The Iowa forward’s pain threshold must be off the charts.

Pemsl played the majority of his freshman season last winter with a pair of torn groin muscles, he told reporters here at the Prime Time League Sunday night. He underwent sports hernia surgery last month.

Pemsl said he started to feel the issue before the Hawkeyes faced Virginia in the Emerald Coast Classic on Nov. 25. The Dubuque (IA) Wahlert graduate said he could barely warm up when the team played the next day against Memphis.

The trainers worked with Pemsl when he returned to Iowa City. Everyone thought he’d strained a muscle in large part because he played through the pain. It stayed with him for the rest of the season but he managed it as best he could.

“I felt it every practice and every game. Once I started getting loose and warmed up a little bit it would go away a little but I always had that pain in the back of my mind and after the season is when I found out I had torn both of my groins. So, I guess I was playing on torn groins all season,” he said.

Amazingly, even with the injury, Pemsl (6-8, 249) averaged 8.9 points and 5.0, both of which ranked fourth on the team.

“No one knew I was in pain. I never showed it or anything like that. Half the time I didn’t even remember I could feel it. Your adrenaline is going, stuff like that. But I had no idea (he had torn muscles),” he said.

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Pemsl said he would stretch out about a half hour before the rest of the team did before games. That loosed him up enough to enough to take part in the rest of the pregame drills and then play in the contests.

“Once my blood started flowing, that’s when you kind of forget about it. You just go out and play. Then you feel it the next day. You go through the same thing game in and game out,” he said.

Specialists in Oklahoma performed the surgery on Pemsl. He said he took the procedure in stride after undergoing several others on his knee when he was in high school.

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“Usually I go into surgery and I’m nervous. Everyone kind of loses it mentally. But I went, I got it done, walked out, went home the next day like it was nothing. I’m not worried about anything right now,” he said

Recovery limits what Pemsl can do physically. He said he stretches and walks, mostly, including logging about three to four miles a day during the first several weeks of his recovery. He is back in the gym for summer workouts with his teammates. He takes part in stationary drills and shoots when the others are running the floor.

There is no timetable for Pemsl’s return to full health. He said he has a goal he’d like to reach but also isn’t going to push anything.

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“I’m hoping for mid-July. I really want to play in Europe. So, the faster I can get back for that. But I’m in no rush. If I can’t play in Europe, it’s not a big deal. I’ll go and support the team. My main focus is to be ready for October and November,” he said.

The Hawkeyes begin a foreign tour in August. And while he’s anxious to get back on the floor, Pemsl is happy he’ll be there when it counts most.

“I’m just glad we got it figured out and we did it at this time rather than in-season where I’m sitting out,” he said.

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