By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Communication.
You hear it all the time from coaches, and from student-athletes.
It’s the life blood, and the foundation in any relationship.
It’s how you establish trust, and respect, by communicating, and by keeping an open line of communication at all times, even more so during tough times.
And the more you trust, respect and admire somebody, the more willing you are to communicate.
Or so it would seem.
That’s what is perplexing about the circumstances, and the timing of C.J. Fredrick’s decision to enter the NCAA transfer portal.
The rumor had persisted since February, and just wouldn’t go away.
And now we know why as Iowa coach Fran McCaffery issued a one-sentence statement Monday morning confirming that Fredrick, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, had entered the transfer portal.
Fredrick then posted a statement shortly thereafter on Twitter in which he said he planned to enter the transfer portal and called it a difficult decision.
Fredrick also thanked Fran McCaffery and the Iowa players and coaches for giving him a chance, and that he gave it his best.
But now Fredrick is gone, and it’s reasonable to assume that his relationship with Fran McCaffery and the Iowa program as a whole probably isn’t the same as it was a few days ago.
That’s what is strange about this situation in that not even a week ago, just last Wednesday, Fran McCaffery held a zoom conference with the media and spoke enthusiastically about Fredrick, saying he was set to return to workouts in about a week.
Fran McCaffery is either an incredible actor, or he wasn’t worried about Fredrick leaving the program at the time.
Because it seems highly unlikely, from knowing Fran McCaffery, that he would’ve spoken so positively about Fredrick if he knew he was considering transferring.
My guess is that Fran McCaffery would not have even met with the media if he knew for sure that this story was developing.
Or maybe he knew about it, but didn’t think there was reason to be concerned or worried about Fredrick transferring.
Maybe Fran McCaffery made the mistake of assuming that Fredrick would stay at Iowa due to their relationship, which was considered something special and long-term until Fredrick decided that playing for Fran McCaffery is no longer in his best interest.
Fredrick, and his uncle Joe Fredrick, both have spoken glowingly about Fran McCaffery, and about how much they both respect, trust and admire him.
Fran McCaffery saw something in C.J. Fredrick at a time when most coaches from Power Five conferences didn’t see it, and that was the start of a beautiful relationship that now suddenly doesn’t seem as beautiful anymore.
Joe Fredrick also played for Notre Dame when Fran McCaffery was an assistant coach for the Irish, and they have remained close through the years. But now you have to wonder about the status of their relationship.
I’m upset if I’m Fran McCaffery because it seems there was a failure to communicate from Fredrick’s end.
I would never criticize a student-athlete for wanting to transfer because it’s their decision, and because they certainly have the right to be happy, and because head coaches switch jobs all the time without restrictions.
It just appears that Fran McCaffery maybe wasn’t getting the full story because he seemed convince on the zoom conference that Fredrick would return next season.
But Fredrick is now presumably headed to Kentucky to live out a childhood dream of being a Wildcat.
Fredrick is from Cincinnati, but he attended high school in Kentucky, so it makes sense.
Some might blame Fran McCaffery for not taking the warning signs serious enough, if in fact that’s what actually happened.
So much of this story is left for speculation, except for the part about Fran McCaffery thinking up until very recently that Fredrick would return next season. That we know is true because we heard McCaffery say it less than a week ago.
And that points to a failure to communicate.
There are two sides to every story, and this one certainly has two sides.
But I’m not interested in picking sides.
I’m just curious about the timing of Fredrick’s decision, and for how long he waited before telling Fran McCaffery that he wanted to transfer.
A decision like this isn’t made over night. Fredrick didn’t just wake up on Sunday and suddenly decide that he wanted to transfer.
The rumor had been festering on social media for over a month.
My only hope is that Fredrick kept Fran McCaffery somewhat in the loop and didn’t wait too long before telling him that he wanted to transfer.
Fran McCaffery now faces what could be a massive rebuilding job without Fredrick, and without All-America center Luka Garza, and possibly without point guard Jordan Bohannon and small forward Joe Wieskamp.
Bohannon is deciding whether to return for a sixth season, while Wieskamp has decided to test the NBA draft process for the second time in three years at Iowa.
Connor McCaffery, who is Fran McCaffery’s son, might be the only returning starter from this past season.
Help could be on the way from the transfer portal, but how much help, and the quality of the help, still is to be determined.
So maybe Fredrick was concerned that Iowa might suffer a decline next season, and didn’t want to be a part of it despite having been a two-year starter.
Kentucky is coming off one of its worst seasons ever, finishing just 9-16, but the roster is loaded with talent and help is on the way besides Fredrick.
And it’s Kentucky, one of college basketball most storied programs led by a highly successful head coach in John Calipari.
In some ways, it makes sense why Fredrick would want to leave Iowa for Kentucky.
I just hope he was upfront and honest with Fran McCaffery, because that much, Fran McCaffery deserves.