Jordan Bohannon wasn’t about to let the news go by without saying something.
The NCAA announced on Monday that it was in talks to hold the entire 68-team men’s basketball tournament next March in the Indianapolis area, creating a sort of “bubble” to get the tournament in after last year’s event was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Which is a great idea, except the announcement came on a day when Bohannon and the rest of his Iowa teammates still aren’t sure about their nonconference or Big Ten schedule.
“NCAA rolling out a ‘plan’ for a tournament in March/April but nothing being communicated about the regular season that starts next week…,” Bohannon posted on Twitter late Monday morning.
He was still talking about it in the afternoon, when the eight returning Hawkeyes from last year’s team that didn’t get a chance to play in the postseason did a video conference with the media.
“You don’t have to get me started about that, with the NCAA and stuff like that. That’s a whole other subject we can touch on,” Bohannon said, smiling.
It’s about who, what, where and when for Bohannon, and how will the Hawkeyes play these games.
“It’s kind of frustrating, individually and team-wise, knowing how good we are this year,” Bohannon said about not knowing the entire details of the Hawkeyes’ 27-game schedule this season. “We kind of just want to know what the plan is for this year. There’s really been no plan that’s been implemented by the (Big Ten) or the NCAA.
“Right now, we’re making the most of the days we have right now, and not taking anything for granted.”
This season is what Bohannon has wanted.
He’s healthy — two hip surgeries have put him in “the best shape of his life,” he said.
And he’s playing on a team ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press preseason poll, a team that is considered a legitimate contender for the Final Four.
It’s a season that could be altered at any time because of the unpredictability of the pandemic, which is why Bohannon wants it to start as soon as possible, and why he wants a plan to get it to the finish.
“That’s really frustrating on our end, because it really affects us mentally on how we’re going to prepare for the season,” he said when talking about the schedule. “Right now, there’s no plan going forward. We hope in the next couple of days something comes forward for what’s going to happen in the regular season.”
Bohannon said that he has talked with players from other Big Ten teams — “We kind of created our own player association,” he said — so that his voice can have company from others frustrated about the NCAA and the inner workings of the sport.
Bohannon’s voice has found plenty of networks. His podcast, “The Standpoint,” helps amplify his message by bringing on guests who can tell their stories about the sport.
“It’s been an absolute blast,” he said. “I kind of started at first, just trying to be jabbing at the NCAA. Then I realized the kind of people that I have connections with, the kind of people I can interview and pick their brain. It’s kind of opened my eyes about the basketball world, and I’ve learned more about the games and people’s lives. I think that’s what’s the most important thing — how different our lives are in college sports. It’s really cool to see, and talk about it.”
Bohannon has always been a strong voice within Iowa’s program.
“J-Bo is like my big brother,” sophomore guard Joe Toussaint said. “He guides me through practice. Last year, he got me through games. But he’s also a guy who leads by example. You know, I watch his gestures and movements, kind of pick up on little things. And I’m glad I get to play with him this year.”
“It’s great to have him back,” said guard CJ Fredrick, in his third year in the program. “To have a guy like that back is great — somebody who took me under his wing when I was here and I was younger.”
To get back, though, Bohannon had to respond from two hip surgeries, the second one in mid-December that ended his season.
The pain from Bohannon’s first four years in the program is gone.
He went back to the “best shape of his life” comment.
“My mom doesn’t think I was, but I was kind of fat last year on the court,” Bohannon said. “But I didn’t have a lot of rehab time to try to get back on the floor and condition. This year, I had a long time to get back healthy.
“Everything is starting to fall in line to where I would be a year and a half from when I got the first hip surgery. It feels pretty good knowing the hills I had to climb the last 12-16 months to get to this point. It makes me kind of feel happy about the work I put in and how hard it made me work to get back to this point.”
There was a point when Bohannon was asked about what it would mean to get to the Final Four. He’s grown up around this program, and he wanted to be a part of it for so long. Now, he said, he’s on a team with a chance to win the national championship.
He’s not sure what the path for the Hawkeyes will look like — the road of what games, and when they’ll be played.
But he’s sure of how it will end.
“I have faith there’s going to be an NCAA tournament,” Bohannon said.
“Because that’s where the money comes from.”