Joe Toussaint’s career at Iowa has been about waiting for his time.
The opportunity, he felt, was going to come, and with minutes freeing up with the departure of two key backcourt pieces for the Hawkeyes, Toussaint was preparing for a much bigger role for next season.
But when Jordan Bohannon, Iowa’s all-time leader in assists, announced he would be coming back for a sixth season, Toussaint admitted he was “confused.”
A call from Bohannon, though, calmed Toussaint’s thoughts. Bohannon said he would be playing mostly at the ‘2’ next season. That would free up the point-guard spot for Toussaint, who filled in for Bohannon as the starter midway through the 2019-20 season when Bohannon went out with season-ending hip surgery.
“He called me, and told me, ‘I’m here for you. This is your show, it’s your turn to run the show,’” Toussaint said. “It really came off my shoulders after he told me that stuff.”
“Once (Bohannon) explained that to him, he was cool about it,” said forward Patrick McCaffery, Toussaint’s roommate and one of his best friends on the team. “He wanted J-Bo to come back, (because) he’ll make our team better.”
So this is Toussaint’s show now, and he embraces the chance.
“I always play with a chip on my shoulder,” Toussaint said. “When I step on the court, I think I’m the best player out there. That’s just my mentality, that’s how I play. If you lace up in front of me, you’re going to have to show me you’re better than me. That’s the mentality I play with.”
Toussaint started the last 20 games of his freshman season with Bohannon out, but last season, with Bohannon back and Iowa’s rotation loaded with experience,
Toussaint’s minutes dropped considerably. He played just 348 minutes in 31 games, compared to 553 in the same amount of games the previous season.
Toussaint said he chose to take the time watching from the bench to learn.
“I feel like last year was just another learning experience, because we had a bunch of older guys,” he said. “I don’t want to say it was a bad year, or a slow year, but I learned a lot. I took a lot away. I’m always looking at the positive things, and I learned a lot.”
Toussaint said he never considered transferring.
“I didn’t really think about leaving, to be honest,” he said. “My mind was just how I’m going to get better from this.
“I’m not one to just getting up and leaving when things aren’t going right.”
Toussaint had offseason surgery on his left ankle after battling with a bone spur throughout last season.
“I didn’t like to tell anybody,” Toussaint said. “That’s just not how I am. I don’t share my business. … I’m not one to complain. I just played through it.”
McCaffery said he’s been impressed with Toussaint’s play this summer.
“He brings a lot of stuff to the table, especially defensively,” he said. “He’s incredibly quick. Really quick hands. He’s all over the place, getting into gaps, getting steals, that kind of stuff. He’s somebody that’s a big weapon there. Defensively, I’ve seen a lot of improvement out of him.
“He’s improved his jumper quite a lot, but he’s still trying to control the game, pick his spots on when to attack and when not to attack. He’s been good at that so far.”
Toussaint’s intensity and confidence has never wavered. His time, it would seem, has arrived.
“I feel good,” he said. “Feel happy to be here, happy to be back.”