The Iowa Hawkeyes got some much needed good news last week when North Dakota big man Filip Rebraca announced he would be transferring to Iowa. The Serbian fills a major void for the Hawkeyes left by the departures of Luka Garza and Jack Nunge. But as big of a boost as Rebraca brings to Iowa’s prospects in 2021-2022, there is still another glaring issue.
With CJ Fredrick’s entry into the transfer portal and the virtual certainty that Joe Wieskamp remains in the NBA Draft, Iowa is in major need of a shooting threat from beyond the arc. With two starters from one of the nation’s most efficient offenses now headed to the NBA and the all-time leaders in three-pointers made and three-point percentage graduates and in the portal respectively, the Hawkeyes are left with a true sophomore who has attempted a grand total of three career three-pointers as its best returning shooter from beyond the arc at just 33%.
Naturally, Hawkeyes fans are again yearning for head coach Fran McCaffery to get to work in the transfer portal. No doubt he’s looking, but the late departure by Fredrick means a number of the 1,500 or so transfers in the portal have already found a home and even more have been courted by coaches who knew they had an opening for weeks.
Still, there are options out there. There are big names like former 5-star SG Bryce Thompson of Kansas and 4-star PG Adam Miller of Illinois. Those names will have major competition, but even they may not be what Iowa needs. Thompson, for example, shot just 22% from beyond the arc as a freshman while Miller at 34% would have been very middle of the pack for Iowa in 2020-2021.
With a roster now constructed around quickness, athleticism and dare I say defense, with leadership expected to come from sophomores Keegan Murray, Ahron Ulis, Tony Perkins and Patrick McCaffery, as well as junior Joe Toussaint - and yes, senior Connor McCaffery when he is again healthy - Iowa needs someone who they can depend on to knock down open shots at a high rate. For the first time in a while, the Hawkeyes are likely to have multiple players capable of taking their man off the dribble and getting into the lane. That doesn’t do much good without a player capable of making defenses pay for helping off the line.
The upcoming season is likely to be a significant step back from both an offensive output and win total perspective. Making the NCAA Tournament is not a given and without someone who can space the floor for what should be the strength of this team next year, the outlook is bleak.
What if the Hawkeyes could land a player through the portal who would instantly be the best shooter on the roster? A guy who is a career 40% shooter from beyond the arc, who is a willing passer that knows how to take care of the ball, with a career 2.5:1 assist to turnover ratio with nearly 4.5 assists per game? Someone who will have no problems learning the offensive system or fitting in with the existing roster? Wouldn’t that be the ideal player to plug in the hole left by CJ Fredrick’s departure?
That player is Jordan Bohannon.
Iowa’s all-time leader in assists and three-pointers sounds like the best available transfer on paper. Are there issues on the defensive end? Absolutely. But every player in the portal has pros and cons. There is nobody currently available to Fran McCaffery who is both an excellent shooter and high level defender with quickness and athleticism. There may be a few unicorns in the portal, but those players have offers from every blueblood in the country. Iowa just lost a poor man’s version of that type of player in Fredrick and he has reported interest from a virtual who’s who of college basketball.
Iowa transfer CJ Fredrick also tells me that he's receiving interest from North Carolina. https://t.co/wSCQX2JTwH— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 21, 2021
For the 2021-2022 season, the Hawkeyes have to choose what’s most important in the portal. In year’s past, that would mean looking for athleticism and defense. Next year’s team is different. The roster is turning over before our very eyes and the new guard is full of quickness, athleticism and defense. It is sorely lacking shooting.
If the option for next season is a choice between Jordan Bohannon and that new guard, the fifth year senior should move on to the next chapter in his life. But it doesn’t need to be.
While Bohannon has spent his entire career as a point guard, the hole on Iowa’s roster is at shooting guard. As we’ve seen, Bohannon on the floor alongside a penetrating point guard like Toussaint or Ulis can work. He provides a second capable ball-handler along with the obvious benefits of stretching the floor and providing instant firepower.
There are clearly issues on the defensive end that have pointed out time and again. While those may be mitigated by finally getting healthy, they aren’t likely to go away. But the roster around Bohannon in 2021-2022 is set to be the best equipped yet to hide the weakness. With either Toussaint or Ulis, the PG spot will be capable of playing tough man-to-man defense for a full shot clock. Pat McCaffery and Keegan Murray ooze length and athleticism that can rotate and block shots from the help side. The addition of Rebraca brings a post defender that will be more capable in the pick and roll than what Iowa had last year. And the Hawkeyes are likely to add another rim protector.
In the right role - the one the Hawkeyes are offering - Jordan Bohannon could be just what the doctor ordered.
Now we just wait to see if the rumors are true.