By SHANE STURTZ
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The last time Cordell Pemsl suited up for the University of Iowa men’s basketball team, he gave the Hawkeyes a boost off the bench in a 98-84 Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series victory over Iowa State on Dec. 6, 2018.
In his unexpected return to the court, with pain somewhat subsided from his nagging knee, he totaled eight points and six rebounds in 15 minutes on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
It was Pemsl’s final game action of the 2018-19 season as he underwent season-ending surgery a couple weeks later to remove hardware near his knee from a realignment surgery in high school.
“That was a game I was able to showcase multiple facets of my game and do multiple things in order to help us win and I’m excited to be able to do that again,” Pemsl said.
The left-handed forward, who averages 7.2 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 59.8 percent in his career, was medically cleared to practice and participate in workouts earlier this summer. Pemsl’s time on the sidelines was difficult, but it put the game in perspective.
“(It’s) something I loved to do since I was a little kid,” he said. “To not be able to do that and see my teammates be successful is hard. At the same time, you learn to not take the game for granted because you never know when you’re going to be done playing.”
“I’m excited to get back out there with the guys. I know there were situations last year where I felt my game and skillset could have helped in certain ways. I’m ready to be able to contribute at 100 percent.”
Prior to surgery, Pemsl endured pain walking up his apartment stairs along with other daily discomfort. All of that is gone, as he calls the surgery one of the best decisions he has made.
It’s a decision that is hitting home for Pemsl’s teammate and long-time friend Jordan Bohannon, who elected to undergo hip surgery in the offseason of his senior year. Roles reversed has Bohannon looking to Pemsl for the assist on how to handle the injury.
“I told him you have to stay positive,” Pemsl said. “There’s a reason for everything. I told him when you get back, and you are yourself again, you are going to realize this was all worth it. It’s going to be a long recovery for him, but when he gets back, he’s going to be a problem.”
With Pemsl’s waiting game over and the surgery behind him, he completes a deep Hawkeye frontcourt. Jack Nunge will also be coming off a redshirt season along with junior Luka Garza and senior Ryan Kriener.
“We’re going to battle it out, but at the end of the day, we’re still a team, and it doesn’t matter who’s starting,” Pemsl said. “All of us are able to contribute to the game in different ways. It might be a situation where it depends on matchups. All of us are going to work and do whatever we have to do to help us win. I believe the combination of any of us can cause problems.”