IOWA CITY, Iowa — Connor McCaffery committed to Iowa as a basketball player in 2014.
But for him to be a multi-sport college athlete, his first sport with the Hawkeyes needs to be baseball.
McCaffery announced Friday he will play for the Iowa baseball team and redshirt in basketball next season.
“I think it’s the best way to maximize each situation, from the baseball side of things and also from the basketball side of things,” he said.
This is the plan for next year‼️?⚾️? GO HAWKS ??? I'm excited to get started. Let's go to work ?? pic.twitter.com/wzhpDGgYQs
— Connor McCaffery (@connor_m30) April 28, 2017
Why baseball as a freshman?
McCaffery and his family spent the last few years figuring the best approach for him to play basketball for his dad, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, as well as baseball going forward.
They looked at all options, even considering prep school, before Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller raised the idea of focusing on baseball in 2017-18. The younger McCaffery could have missed up to 20 games, depending on how long the basketball season lasted. Heller told the family it’s tough for a freshman to make an impact after missing so much of the season.
Playing baseball right away will give him the opportunity to see how he fits into the program’s short-term and long-term views.
“At least if he is all-in, he can see where he is and decide moving forward how he wants to handle it,” Fran McCaffery said, “but he fully wants to play basketball and will no question be an impact player for us.”
Connor McCaffery hit .407 and led Iowa City West High School to a second-place state finish last season. He also hit 8 home runs and registered 33 RBIs. He could play first base or outfield for the Hawkeyes.
“A lot of it depends on what some of his guys do in the draft,” he said of the baseball team. “I don’t really know what their plans are. [Coach Heller] said there are some spots that I will be able to fight for as a freshman.”
Why redshirt in basketball?
McCaffery, a 6-foot-4 point guard, chose to redshirt in basketball to create some separation between himself and starting point guard Jordan Bohannon, who is entering his sophomore season. Redshirting also will give him a chance to play longer with his brother, Patrick, a Class of 2019 Iowa commitment.
McCaffery is a 4-star 247Sports composite basketball prospect, ranked No. 109 nationally. His dad said he envisions him spending time at both guard spots with the Hawkeyes.
“We have a number of guys who can shoot the ball,” Fran McCaffery said. “So he can have it, he can load those guys up or some of those other guys can have it and he can play on the wing because he can shoot the ball. It gives us a lot of, I think, flexibility.”
Connor McCaffery will suit up first for baseball, but he doesn’t want to view it as his main option.
“I guess I won’t consider (basketball) my secondary sport,” he said. “I will think of it as equals. I will be on the team. I will be going to practice. I will be with them all the time. I just won’t be playing it.”
What comes next?
Details are still being worked out. McCaffery doesn’t know if he’ll go to Asia with the baseball team or Europe with the basketball squad this summer. The coaches and training staffs will need to work on a strength program — “He can’t be lifting for us and for them,” his father said — while also ensuring he gets enough time to train for both sports.
Time management, and fitting in academics, will be crucial as well, but those are all thoughts for another day. Right now, he said, he is happy he will play both sports in college, even if it means basketball takes a backseat for a year.
“It’s steadily been on my mind,” McCaffery said. “People are speculating what you are going to do and you kind of want to get it over with and answer everybody’s questions and I think it just got to be time. That’s why I’m kind of relieved today to get it out of the way so everyone knows and I know when it’s off my chest.”