University of Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery said last week that he thought sophomore forward Jack Nunge was close to being cleared for all basketball-related activities.
On Wednesday, it happened.
According to multiple reports, the 6-foot-11 Nunge was cleared to fully participate in the Hawkeyes’ first preseason practice.
Nunge underwent surgery on his right knee in December after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in a Nov. 24 game against Cal Poly. He was driving to the basket late in first half of that game when the knee bent at an awkward angle and he went down hard.
McCaffery reported in June that the surgery went very well and that Nunge, whose father is a physician, had approached his rehabilitation in an exemplary way.
“He has been diligent with his rehabilitation schedule, not pushing himself too hard but pushing himself hard enough and I feel confident he’ll be back in the lineup,’’ McCaffery said.
Nunge started 14 games as a freshman in 2017-18, averaging 5.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, then took the following year off to build up his strength and refine his skills.
The Newburgh, Ind., product gained 20 pounds and reported last fall weighing 245 and with renewed confidence.
McCaffery raved about his progress leading up to last season and Nunge started the first five games at power forward, averaging 6.0 points and 4.6 rebounds before suffering the injury.
Nunge was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA in the off-season, which means that even though is in his fourth year of college, he still has three years of eligibility remaining.
McCaffery hinted this summer that Nunge may not necessarily be a starter this season, but indicated he will be a very important part of the team.
“I think Jack Nunge is a guy who, if he’s not in the starting lineup, will provide a little bit of what Ryan Kriener did for us last year,’’ McCaffery said.
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