Schwartz: Bohannon Makes The Smart Call, Handles Health

May 23, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Well, hell.

Jordan Bohannon’s potentially season-ending hip surgery (first reported by Chad Leistikow) certainly warps the dynamic of Iowa’s 2019-20 men’s basketball season.

The Hawkeyes lost Isaiah Moss and Maishe Dailey to transfers, and Tyler Cook left early to turn pro. Now Bohannon, who hopefully takes the redshirt and doesn’t try to return too soon, is out too. Just like that, Luka Garza and Cordell Pemsl are your veterans. Just like that, Joe Toussaint and Connor McCaffery become your primary floor generals.

Sports turn on a dime. Life turns on a dime. Bohannon, according to Leistikow, had been dealing with hip pain for years before Wednesday’s surgery. He made the right call to finally take care of himself, and we wish him the best as he rehabs and prepares for his senior season in 2020-21.

What’s most interesting – turning the conversation back to the on-court game – is how well this sets up the Hawkeyes for success two seasons from now. Yeah, it’s kind of a bummer for the upcoming season, but let’s face it: with Cook and Moss already off the books, some of the air had already come out of 2019-20.

Now, 2020-21 aligns to give the Hawkeyes their best chance at a Big Ten championship under Fran McCaffery.

Bohannon, Pemsl, and Garza will be seniors; Wieskamp, if he sticks around, will be a junior along with Jack Nunge; and Toussaint and Patrick McCaffery will be sophomores who hopefully will have earned significant playing time as freshmen.

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That’s a solid lineup, one that can contend atop the Big Ten as long as injuries are kept to a minimum and their head coach can go a full season without emotionally disintegrating.

What can’t be discounted here is the wisdom in Bohannon’s decision. Athletes want to play. Sometimes that leads to poor decisions that are based on immediate wants rather than long-term perspectives. 

Could Bohannon have played this coming season? Probably. He’d already been playing hurt. But why should he? Maybe he could have played, scored 14-20 points a game, hit some memorable shots. He can still do that next year, and he can do so in far less pain. 

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Plus, maybe he’s got designs on playing professionally. Better to get this procedure done now than after his senior season when scouts will want to see what he can do.

“Take whatever time is necessary to recover fully,” writes orthopedic surgeon David Geier of athletes who suffer injuries.

I’m reminded of two athletes. The first is Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, who has turned into one of the NBA’s best players after the organization held him out for nearly two full years to make sure his body was recovered from injuries. The other is Randall Cobb, the NFL wide receiver who so badly wanted to play last season that he rushed back from injury and promptly re-injured himself.

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“At a minimum,” Geier writes, “all athletes need to take all injuries seriously.”

So, yeah, as long as Bohannon doesn’t rush things, it’ll be another 17-18 months until we get to see him play basketball again. That’s a long wait, but it’s a wait that’s worth it.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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