Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By RICK BROWN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jordan Bohannon has heard the stories, now 35 years old.
The stories of his dad, Gordy, and Iowa’s remarkable 1981 football team. The Hawkeyes had not enjoyed a winning season since 1961, but Iowa shocked Nebraska in the season opener, 10-7, finished 8-4, shared the Big Ten title with Ohio State, and went to the Rose Bowl. It was a program-changing season, and Gordy Bohannon was Iowa’s quarterback.
“I heard they pretty much set the tone for the program,” Jordan said.
Now, 35 years later, Jordan is a legacy Hawkeye trying to make a name for himself as a freshman point guard on Iowa’s basketball team.
“I’m sure people recognize the name,” Jordan said. “Oh, (his dad), I watched him back in the 80’s, playing quarterback. Especially in the Rose Bowl.”
Gordy played some point guard himself at South Pasadena (Calif.) High School, before turning to football fulltime. Jordan has followed in the footsteps of his three older brothers to the basketball floor.
Jason played at Wisconsin from 2006 to 2010, scoring 1,170 points and finishing in the top five in career 3-pointers attempted and made. Zach started at Air Force and transferred to Wisconsin, playing in 70 career games. He completed his career in 2014. And Matt was a senior at Northern Iowa last season, finishing with 1,092 points, and is the Panthers’ career leader in both 3-pointers attempted (690) and made (268).
Now Jordan wants to build on that legacy. Sure he’s Gordy’s kid. But he’s also Jason, Zach, and Matt’s brother. And he’s leaning on all of them as he negotiates his way through his first season of Division I basketball.
Jordan has had some bright moments four games in. And some tough moments, too. Like that stretch of the second half against Seton Hall last week, when he turned the ball over several times.
“I made dumb decisions with the ball,” Jordan said. “Seton Hall got up into us, and I had that two- to three-minute stretch where I had some questionable passes.”
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery took Bohannon out of the game. But instead of hanging his head, Bohannon’s eyes remained focused on the game in front of him.
“The coaches talked to me, especially after that game, to keep my head up and believe in myself,” Jordan said. “They reminded me that I’m a freshman. There are going to be mistakes that happen, but it’s not that moment that should define you. It’s how you bounce back from adversity and how you apply it to the next game.”
Jordan has more than coaches to lean on. He’s got his dad and his brothers, too.
“In high school I was shooting a lot of contested shots. Coming to college, we’re looking more for Peter (Jok) and Tyler (Cook), so I have to evolve into that role. It’s going to take time, but I’m getting to the point where I know what shots I can and can’t take.” — Jordan Bohannon
“My parents (Gordy and Brenda) were there for me after the game,” Jordan said. “They reminded me to learn from my mistakes. And my brothers all went through it as freshmen. They all had their moments, at Wisconsin, Air Force, and Northern Iowa. They told me stories about what happened their freshman years, and how the coach got into them and they kept believing in themselves. Obviously they all had pretty good careers after that.”
All three brothers are back in the state of Iowa now, and get to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to watch Jordan play when they can. Jason is a financial advisor in Hiawatha, Matt works in accounting and auditing in Des Moines. Zach is a financial advisor and business consultant in Cedar Rapids.
“After every game they can bring up stories about what happened to them, and I can apply it to my life,” Jordan said.
Bohannon is averaging 21.2 minutes and 5.0 points a game. He has 19 assists to just eight turnovers. After being the go-to guy on offense at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, where he won Iowa Mr. Basketball honors in 2016, he’s still making the adjustment from shooter to setup guy.
“In high school I was shooting a lot of contested shots,” Bohannon said. “Coming to college, we’re looking more for Peter (Jok) and Tyler (Cook), so I have to evolve into that role. It’s going to take time, but I’m getting to the point where I know what shots I can and can’t take.”
The most important number on Bohannon’s boxscore line Sunday might have been 24 minutes he played.
“Games like this will help me in the long run,” Jordan said.
Iowa takes a big jump up in competition this week when it plays in the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida. The Hawkeyes meet No. 6 Virginia at 6 p.m. (CT) Friday, a game that will be televised by CBS Sports Network. Iowa will play either Providence or Memphis on Saturday.