IOWA CITY, Iowa - Life has not been a breeze for Jordan Bohannon.
He’s tried to play outside the gigantic athletic shadow left by his father and three siblings, and considered quitting basketball because of it. And there were two painful hip injuries that required surgery, followed by hours of rehabilitation.
But he’ll reach the finish line to his Iowa basketball career with his head held high. When it’s over, and he takes off that No. 3 jersey for the final time, Bohannon will look back on a career that added to his family legacy. All this while playing with a chip on his shoulder, determined to prove his doubters wrong.
“I’ve done everything I can to try and maximize my abilities,” the senior point guard said after his final game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Sunday. “I can honestly say I’ve done everything I could to make this team as great as it can be. I’ve always been about the team, and wanting to win.” When you think about it, doing something for others is the underlying theme to Bohannon’s career.
Granted, his limitless range from 3-point distance has put him in the spotlight. A school-record 355 career triples and counting. Only one player in Big Ten history, Ohio State’s Jon Diebler, has more (374). Bohannon made eight triples in a game twice, at Maryland in 2017 and against Nebraska last Thursday.
There were those two unforgettable games, a dozen days apart, in 2019. Unforgettable not because of the significance of the victory, but because of what Bohannon did. First he scored 13 of his 15 points in the final 4 minutes, including a stepback triple with seconds remaining, for an 80-79 victory against Northwestern.
Then he brought the thunder again, versus Indiana. He got possession after a near turnover and fired in an off-balance 3 from the right wing over Romeo Langford with :28 to go that tied the game, then made three more in the final two minutes of the extra session for a 76-70 triumph. Don Fischer, the longtime radio voice of Indiana basketball, called it the most impressive shooting display he had ever witnessed.
Volumes have been written about Bohannon the shooter. The unselfish side of Jordan hasn’t received its just due.
It starts with Bohannon setting his teammates up, to the tune of a school career-record 625 assists heading into the Big Ten Tournament. It was a Bohannon assist that got Luka Garza Iowa’s career scoring mark against Penn State.
But his greatest assist came on the night of Feb. 25, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That was the night he refused to erase Chris Street’s school record for consecutive made free throws. Bohannon went to the line with 2:15 remaining and Iowa in front by eight points. He had tied Street’s record of 34, and could have passed him.
But he intentionally missed the record-setting free throw, pointed to the sky and now shares the mark with a beloved Hawkeye star who died in the middle of junior season at Iowa. In today’s me-first society, Bohannon’s respect for the past was the ultimate act of unselfishness. Gordy Bohannon, a California quarterback, was one of the first recruits Hayden Fry brought in as Iowa’s coach. The program had suffered through 19 consecutive non-winning seasons when Bohannon and his teammates won eight games, shared the Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl.
Gordy never left Iowa. He and his wife, Brenda, had four sons. Four Division I basketball-playing sons. Three of them - Jason, Zach and Matt - preceded Jordan. Those were some big shoes for fill.
“I ended up at Iowa, where my dad played,” Jordan said. “I had to carry on that legacy of being a Bohannon. It was hard growing up. I thought many times I just wanted to give up on basketball and go my own route. It was very toiling on my mind. And once I got to Iowa, it was the same thing.”
Now, as he reflects on the past with the end rapidly approaching, Bohannon should be commended for a job well done. Many a parent has tweeted Jordan with a picture of their child in a No. 3 jersey. He’s set a positive example for the next generation.
“I’m truly grateful for the position I’ve been put in, to be here and and just try to continue living up to my family’s name,” Bohannon said. “I’ve done everything I can to be as great as I can for the younger kids out there, and to make the jersey greater than it was before me and to try and make it better for the guys after me. I’ve been surrounded by so many great teammates.” Bohannon’s humor, love of a good challenge and standing for what he believes in are as much a part of his DNA as his shooting touch.
Whether it’s taking on the NCAA, speaking his mind on his podcast, “The Standpoint,” dueling with campus parking meter personnel on Twitter or leaving his shoes on the floor at Hilton Coliseum after a victory at Iowa State, Bohannon is his own man.
He’s spent his career taking on doubters who said he’d never make it in the Big Ten. He proved them wrong.
“Coach (Fran) McCaffery gave me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I can’t thank him enough,” Bohannon said. “But the work’s not done yet. We want to end this thing on the right note.”