IOWA CITY, Iowa - His coach re-recruited him, which made Jordan Bohannon chuckle.
But Fran McCaffery’s pitch worked.
Bohannon, Iowa’s all-time leader in 3-point goals and assists, is coming back for a sixth year, taking advantage of the NCAA’s ruling to grant every player last season an additional year of eligibility.
Bohannon was ready to move on after a historic career with the Hawkeyes, but so many factors sparked the decision to come back, he said during a media availability on Tuesday.
And McCaffery helped make the decision.
“Fran basically was re-recruiting me the last two weeks, which was really weird because I’m 23 years old and I’m being re-recruited to be back in college,” Bohannon said.
McCaffery’s pitch was simple, and others provided similar suggestions:
• Bohannon could be a combo guard. Bohannon knew that his departure would open up playing time for a young backcourt that brings back Joe Toussaint for his third season and Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins for their second year.
With the departure of CJ Fredrick into the NCAA’s transfer portal, Bohannon could get Fredrick’s minutes at the ‘2’ spot.
“I didn’t want to impact Joe Toussaint, and his development as a player, wanting him to go back to the spotlight that he had when I was injured,” Bohannon said of Toussaint, who started the remainder of the 2019-20 season after Bohannon chose to have a second hip surgery in December.
• Bohannon could be a leader. With the loss of Fredrick and senior center Luka Garza, along with junior forward Joe Wieskamp testing the NBA draft process, there was a leadership void that needed to be filled.
“He wants someone to be that guy to provide leadership for what’s about to happen,” Bohannon said. “I always think of myself as a leader. What better way for myself to learn about myself and help others then to come back this season, and try to accomplish something back.”
• You have the opportunity to play, so why not use it? That was a pitch that many people, including Bohannon’s family, gave him. There was one more year to play college basketball on the table, a gift.
“I didn’t want to have that regret later in my life,” Bohannon said.
• He can still have a platform in the battle for reform in college athletics. Bohannon has been one of the louder voices among college athletes about allowing players to profit from their name, image and likeness.
Bohannon was discouraged that a bill in Iowa’s state legislature died during the current session, but he vowed to keep the battle going, even though he likely won’t profit from it this season.
“Nothing is in it for me,” Bohannon said. “If anything, people can say I’ve been ungrateful for the last year or so, speaking out about college athletes. But I don’t think they understand the scope of what I’m doing to help others around me, other fellow college athletes, that’s going to make their lives better on moving forward, and the younger generation that’s going to become college athletes is going to better because of what I’ve been doing, what (Rutgers basketball player) Geo Baker has been doing, what (Michigan’s) Isaiah Livers did this past year.
“What’s in it for me is I’m going to continue to push for these future college athletes to benefit off a basic right that every other student on campus has, and it’s an absolute embarrassment to the NCAA that they haven’t passed anything. It’s sad, but we’re going to keep pushing forward.”
• He’ll get to play a final season in front of fans. Bohannon didn’t like playing this season in front of almost-empty arenas during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he is someone who thrives from the energy of playing at home, and in hostile environments.
“I think it will be way more fun and exciting this year,” he said. “Not to say last year wasn’t — it just never felt like a real season. Every game felt like a scrimmage.”
Bohannon knows he can be an irritant to opposing fans, especially in places like Iowa State, where the Hawkeyes play this season.
“I know how to rile up some fan bases,” he said, smiling.
It was after Iowa’s loss to Oregon in the second round of the NCAA tournament when Bohannon had, in his mind, played in his last college game.
The pieces for his return, Bohannon said, had fallen into place. He’s back for one more season.
“I’ll continue to be outspoken, continue to be a confident guy on and off the court,” Bohannon said. “Nothing’s going to change with that.”