IOWA CITY — The start of the basketball regular season is still a couple of weeks away, but it looks as though the grand plan for Connor McCaffery’s freshman year of college may already be trashed.
The plan called for McCaffery, the son of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, to sit out this basketball season while focusing his attention on playing for coach Rick Heller’s Iowa baseball team next spring.
After the Hawkeyes’ 105-81 exhibition victory over William Jewell on Friday, both father and son admitted it is very possible Connor could end up playing basketball right away this season.
“I’ll sit down and talk to my dad and talk to Coach Heller, get their thoughts and hopefully make a decision in the next two weeks about what’s going to happen," Connor said after collecting five points and three assists in 18 minutes of action in the exhibition game.
The impetus for the change occurred a day earlier when junior Christian Williams announced plans to transfer to another school. Williams backed up Jordan Bohannon at point guard last season.
Junior Brady Ellingson also has played a little bit of point guard for Iowa, but he is much better suited to shooting guard.
The Hawkeyes could suddenly really use Connor’s help.
Fran McCaffery said he liked the way his son played Friday and especially liked the way things worked when Connor was in the game with Bohannon shifting over to play shooting guard alongside him.
“Having him in the point guard position would allow us to get Jordan the ball in different locations, which we did a little bit tonight," Fran McCaffery said. "Connor has been really comfortable in practice. … I was really happy with how the ball got to him in tonight’s game."
Connor, who many believe has a bright future as a left-handed hitting first baseman-outfielder, admitted to having mixed feelings about the whole situation.
“Obviously, it puts me in a difficult position just because I had been planning on one thing and now I need to go back and maybe rethink that," he said. “It’s just something I wasn’t expecting. It’s not like I’m upset about it or anything. I’ve just got to go about making a mature decision."
He added that his father has been very careful not to pressure him one way or the other.
“He’s been very clear on ‘Do what’s best for you,’" Connor said. “'I don’t want to use you as a pawn for my problems. I want you to do what’s best for you. If you want to pull the redshirt, pull the redshirt. If you want to play baseball still, play baseball, and we’ll figure out how to plug in holes and we’ll be fine. It’s completely up to you.’"
Players can compete in preseason exhibition games and still take a redshirt year. Connor will undoubtedly play in the Hawkeyes’ second exhibition Thursday against Belmont Abbey, but he’ll need to make a decision prior to the Nov. 10 regular-season opener against Chicago State.
Most of the Iowa players admitted they didn’t foresee Williams leaving the program. They were very surprised.
“I was," Connor McCaffery said. “C-Will, that’s my guy. I wish him the best."
Bohannon said the soft-spoken Williams was someone who took him under his wing when he first arrived at Iowa last year.
“Obviously I loved Christian. We all did," Bohannon said. “He was a great teammate to all of us."