Nunge Transfer Leaves a Hole

First, here are the details from the University of Iowa relative to Jack Nunge’s decision to transfer:

Redshirt sophomore Jack Nunge has notified head coach Fran McCaffery of his intentions to transfer from the University of Iowa and the men’s basketball program. 

“After long consideration, I have made the difficult decision to transfer following this semester,” said Nunge. “This has been an incredibly emotional and difficult year for me and my family. I want to transfer to a school closer to home so I can be near my mother and siblings. I have nothing but fond memories of the University of Iowa, my teammates, coaches and fans these past four years. I sincerely appreciate Hawkeye Nation’s overwhelming support during my time in Iowa City. I wish my teammates the best of luck in the future and appreciate everything the University of Iowa has done for me.” 

Nearly 12 months after sustaining the first of two season-ending knee injuries, Nunge’s father (Dr. Mark Nunge) passed away unexpectedly at the age of 53 on Nov. 28, 2020. Nunge sustained a torn ACL on his right knee on Nov. 24, 2019, versus Cal Poly. He suffered a torn meniscus of the same knee in Iowa’s road game at Michigan on Feb. 25, 2021. 

“Jack and I had a heartfelt meeting today,” said McCaffery. “No person should ever have to go through what Jack has endured the last 16 months and my heart aches for him. Jack expressed his desire to continue his education and complete his eligibility at a school closer to his family. My staff and I fully support his decision and will help every way possible with his transition. Jack is beloved and respected by everyone in our program and has been a valuable teammate the past four years.”

Nunge was the team’s leading scorer (7.1) and rebounder (5.3) off the bench in 22 games played in 2020-21. He started 19-of-60 games as a Hawkeye, averaging 6.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 blocks, and 0.5 steals.

Nunge had a nightmare of a year, with the tragic loss of his father (Mark Nunge) back in November and then his knee injury in February.

The knee injury, on the heels of his knee injury from a year before, would have been enough to make one question a lot of things.  But losing your father, who was just 53 years old, added a cruel hurdle for Jack and his four siblings, along with Jack’s mother Beth. Toss in the extreme limitations created by the COVID-19 bubble the basketball players had to live in and I don’t think anyone with a heart could begrudge Jack’s decision to be closer to his family.

As for the Iowa basketball program next year, Jack’s loss leaves a huge void, figuratively and literally.  Jack was expected to make a full recovery and would have been a starter and playing at least 25 minutes per game.  He was also a rim protector and excellent shot blocker.

Iowa was already thin at the four and five positions prior to Nunge’s departure, but now they are very, very thin.  Josh Ogundele is going to have to be on a faster track to more minutes, and he is 6-10.  He was listed at 285 this season and he needs to get down to around 260 or so.  Still, I think it would be too much to expect Josh to save the day here.  Keegan and Kris Murray can give you some minutes at the four, but the physical rigors of the Big Ten tells us Iowa is in dire need of a transfer, or two, who can patrol the paint.

The good news is this year is a free transfer year, due to COVID-19, and there are more names than ever in the transfer portal.

Godspeed, Jack Nunge…I hope you find peace and experience success.

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