IOWA CITY, Iowa - Jordan Bohannon was not even 10 years old at the time. But he still remembers watching Iowa’s Jeff Horner pull up and fire a deep 3-pointer at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I remember looking at my mom and saying, “This player is really good.’ He was the kind of player I modeled my game after as I grew up.”
Horner made 262 3-pointers as a four-year starter for the Hawkeyes from 2002-03 to 2005-06. That was a school record until Bohannon passed him last season. Heading into Thursday’s game at Wisconsin, Bohannon has 326.
Horner also left Iowa with a career-best 612 assists. That’s still a record, though it has a short shelf life. Bohannon has 599.
“Jordan reminds me a little bit of myself,” said Horner, now the head coach at Truman State. “He’s not the most athletic guy in the world. But he competes, and he does the small things to help your team.”
Bohannon is humbled to be compared with Horner.
“He’s one of the greatest Hawkeyes to ever play here, to ever put on the jersey,” Bohannon said. “For my name to even be thrown out there is breathtaking. And I can’t even put into words what it means to have that happen.”
Horner, who played at Mason City, and Bohannon, who played at Linn-Mar, both won Iowa’s Mr. Basketball award as high school seniors. But their recruiting stories are very different. Horner committed to Iowa after his freshman season of high school. Bohannon wanted to be a Hawkeye, but didn’t get an offer from Coach Fran McCaffery until late in the recruiting process. “I recruited Jordan a little bit when I was (an assistant coach) at North Dakota because he didn’t get the Iowa offer until it was late,” Horner said. “He had an offer from UNI but something happened with that, so we jumped in.”
Bohannon recalls being recruited by someone he’d looked up to as a player. “I talked to him a couple of times,” Jordan said. “But at the end of the day I wanted to come to Iowa and start a legacy here.”
Horner was a Top 100 recruit nationally. Bohannon didn’t have the same fanfare. In fact, some experts took to social media to say that Jordan wasn’t good enough to play at Iowa. That became Bohannon’s chip-on-the-shoulder motivation, to prove people wrong. “I’ve worked really hard in my life, but I never thought I could ever get to this point of being able to break a record at Iowa,” Bohannon said. “Because so many people doubted me once I got on campus that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything. That provided a lot of fuel to my fire. And looking up to all these guys like Jeff Horner is something that really helped me to get to this point.”
Bohannon has earned his reputation as a deep 3-point threat at Iowa, much like Horner did before him. But Bohannon can also drop dimes. He’s had at least six assists in 35 career games. He’s reached double-figure assists eight times, including a career-best 14 in an 86-71 victory over Minnesota on Jan. 10. Still, his passing isn’t appreciated as much as his shooting skills.
“I don’t know who would underappreciate it,” McCaffery said. “He’s going to be the school’s all-time leader in assists.I don’t know what more you have to do to get appreciated. I appreciate it, I can tell you that. So anybody that doesn’t appreciate it doesn’t know anything about basketball.”
In a way, shooting and passing are diverse skills. It’s a multiple skill set that a lot of players don’t possess.
“It’s an interesting combination for sure,” said Horner, like Bohannon a 1,000-point scorer at Iowa.
But it’s a pair of skills that Horner had, and Bohannon has emulated.
“Growing up, I had to be more of a scorer on my high school team,” said Horner, who tallied 2,194 points at Mason City. “But I still got a lot of assists, which people probably don’t remember, because I had a lot of shots per game. When I got to Iowa I was playing against different competition. Early on, I had to earn the respect of the older guys.” His scoring average dipped slightly (14.0 to 13.6) as a senior when Adam Haluska joined the team and provided another scoring weapon.
“Someone had to take a back seat and I was fine with that,” Horner said. “I was a scorer when I had to be. But it was more so just controlling the game as a point guard. That’s where I was the last couple of years. It was one of those things where I always had good teammates.” Bohannon needs just five more assists to join Horner and another former Mason City star, Dean Oliver, as the only Iowa players to reach the 100-assist mark in four different seasons. Bohnnon could reach the century mark this season with Oliver as a witness. Dean, who had 1,561 points and 561 assists at Iowa, is an assistant coach at Wisconsin.
Another 14 dimes and Bohannon will have more assists than anyone in Iowa history. “Just having that competitive edge has probably been big for both of us,” Horner said.