By John Bohnenkamp
IOWA CITY — Patrick McCaffery was ranked as one of the top 100 basketball players in the nation in the Class of 2019, but of course nobody was recruiting him.
McCaffery had long since committed to play for his father at Iowa, so he didn’t have to deal with the phone calls and the text messages and all of the what-are-you-going-to-do chaos that comes with the process of selecting a school.
He was fine with having to miss all of that.
“I always wanted to be a Hawkeye. I knew what I wanted to do,” said McCaffery, who was ranked No. 75 in the Rivals Top 150 as a four-star recruit out of Iowa City West High School. “A lot of my friends, they would say, ‘You’re lucky you didn’t have to go through the recruiting process.’ They had to call coaches at the end, saying they were going somewhere else, and they said that was really hard. I obviously never had to go through that. There are pros and cons with the recruiting process, what you could have went through. It’s definitely a different situation than most coaches had.”
Patrick wasn’t about to say no, because he wanted to play wherever his dad was coaching. When Fran McCaffery was at Siena, a young Patrick wanted to play there. And when his father moved to Iowa to take over in 2010, there was no way Patrick was going to be anything but a Hawkeye.
“A dream come true, really,” said Patrick, a 6-foot-9 forward who finished his career as West’s all-time leading scorer. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to my whole life. Something that’s been a long time coming for me. It’s something that I’ve just really wanted to do.”
It’s why, after he committed to Iowa two seasons ago, he found himself watching games and wondering where he fit.
“Especially last year, it hit home for me. ‘This time next year, I’ll be out here,’” Patrick said. “Yeah, definitely thought about it.”
“He’s been in the gym for these workouts since he’s been in fourth grade,” Fran McCaffery said back in June. “And I think in addition to that, he knows all of the guys. He’s played against them in high school, played against them in open gym situations. So he’s very comfortable. It’s not been any kind of adjustment. It’s been pretty seamless, actually.”
Where he fits this season, though, will be interesting. His listed weight on the roster is 190 pounds, and given Iowa’s crowded frontcourt, could be a redshirt candidate.
But nothing has to be decided until the beginning of the season.
“Right now (the plan) would be to play him,” Fran said. “As we get closer to the season, if we feel like it would benefit him to redshirt, we’ll see where he’s at weight-wise. He’s been getting a lot stronger. He’s lifting. His game is in a really good place.”
The summer has been an education for Patrick. He’s been working at the ‘3’ — “It’s about who you can guard on defense, not necessarily where you can play on offense. It’s easier for me to guard a ‘3’ than a ‘4,’ he said.
Of course, that means going against sophomore-to-be Joe Wieskamp, coming off a more-than-solid freshman season and a spring journey through the NBA draft process.
“We’ve been battling a lot,” Patrick said. “It’s been a lot of fun guarding him every day. I think we’ll play really well off each other.”
It’s all about family for Patrick. He’ll play for his father, and play with his brother, Connor, who will be a third-year sophomore.
And yes, playing for his father is unique.
“We’ve always done a pretty good job of keeping it separate,” Patrick said. “We’ve always been good about separating those two relationships. It’s been kind of weird, but I guess I’m used to it by now. I still look at him as my father.”
In other words, Fran is not ‘Dad’ on the court.
“No, no,” Patrick said. “I definitely look at him as ‘Coach’ on the floor. It took a little bit of getting used to, but now I’m starting to figure it out.”
It’s what he’s always wanted.
“It’s good to finally be here,” Patrick said.