When Jeff Horner established a new career assist record at the University of Iowa in 2006, he passed a couple of his idols to get there.
Horner was the little kid who followed Dean Oliver around when Oliver played at Mason City High School for Horner’s father, Bob. And Horner idolized Andre Woolridge as a junior high kid in Mason City. It was a big deal to him to pass those two and get to the top of the list.
“To hold that record was something that was near and dear to my heart …,’’ said Horner, who is now the highly successful head coach at Division II Truman State. “To hold the career record at a Big Ten school, your dream school, it’s definitely something to look back at.’’
Now Horner is about to be unseated by someone who idolized him.
Iowa senior Jordan Bohannon needs just three assists Thursday against No. 3-ranked Michigan to surpass Horner’s career total of 612.
Bohannon was only 10 years old when Horner played his final game at Iowa. But he said he remembers watching Horner pull up for extra-long 3-point shots from the Mediacom logo at Carver-Hawkeye and remarking to his mother how impressed he was.
In later years, he studied video of Horner to learn as much as he could about the art of playing point guard.
“Pulling up from the logo, I saw him do it a bunch of times and the way he was able to handle the team and his leadership on the court, it’s someone that I’ve always sort of modeled my game after,’’ Bohannon said.
“I’ve obviously taken a lot of different facets from different guys … but he’s one guy I’ve always looked up to … Jeff Horner is someone I always looked up to and someone I felt I could model my game after when I got to Iowa.’’
Bohannon gradually has been weeding Horner’s name out of the Hawkeyes record book the past few years.
Horner ended his career No. 1 at Iowa in 3-point field goals (262), 3-point attempts (713) and assists (612), and he also was No. 11 in scoring (1,502) at that time.
Bohannon passed him in made 3s in the final game of the 2019 season, topped him in 3-point attempts in the second game of this season and passed him in scoring earlier this month against Rutgers.
Now the assist record is about to fall.
Like Horner, Bohannon said this record is the most important one to him.
“The assists record means more to me than the 3-point record, even the Big Ten 3-point record if I’m able to get to that,’’ Bohannon said. “That assist record means more to me just because it shows how unselfish I’ve been.’’
Horner still watches as many Iowa games as he can although he admits it’s difficult because he has a team of his own to coach. When he watches, he sees things in Bohannon that look familiar.
“I think we’re probably a little bit different player,’’ he said. “I was a little bigger but I think he shoots the ball better than I did. We’re very similar in that we had a lot of guards to help us as we were growing up … He has a swagger on the court that is something that reminds me a lot of myself.’’
Horner saw some of those things back when Bohannon was starring at Linn-Mar High School. He was an assistant coach at North Dakota then and took a stab at trying to recruit both Bohannon and his AAU buddy, Spirit Lake big man Ryan Kriener, during the summer before their senior year of high school. Neither had many Division I offers so he figured it was worth a shot.
“We kind of came in a little late knowing they both probably were going to go higher than us,’’ Horner said. “And then at their last tournament I think they both ended up getting their Iowa offers and obviously we were out.’’
Now Bohannon is about to wipe out Horner's one remaining school record.
“He’s one of the greatest Hawkeyes to ever play here and put on the jersey,'' Bohannon said of Horner. "For my name to be thrown in with his is breath-taking. I can’t even put into words what that means … Looking up to guys like Jeff Horner is something that really helped me get to this point.’’
Poll watch: With two victories last week, Iowa rose from 11th to ninth in the weekly Associated Press Top 25, becoming the fourth Big Ten team in the top 10. Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois retained the third, fourth and fifth slots for the second straight week. Wisconsin dropped to No. 23 after losing to the Hawkeyes.
More awards: Luka Garza was named the Naismith Trophy national player of the week Monday and also was honored as the Big Ten player of the week for the third time this season and fifth time in his career.
The senior center, who averaged 26.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games and became Iowa's career scoring leader Sunday against Penn State, shared the Big Ten award with Ohio State guard Duane Washington Jr.
Garza also was named one of 10 finalists for college basketball’s Senior CLASS award. The acronym stands for “Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School’’ and the award “encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.’’
Tweaked schedule: Iowa’s game at Michigan was moved up a week from March 4 to Feb. 25 late last week, but Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said he had no problem with that. It’s the sort of thing he expected to deal with in this pandemic-impacted season.
“We were going to play Michigan anyway so what difference does it make when we play them?’’ he said following Sunday’s game against Penn State.
“They’re really good,’’ he added. “But they’re going to be good no matter when we play them.’’
Milestone update: After becoming Iowa's career scoring leader, Garza still is climbing the career charts in other statistical categories. He is sixth in rebounding with 856, just one behind Michael Payne, and is seventh in blocked shots with 140, one behind Gabe Olaseni.
Joe Wieskamp is now 31st on Iowa’s career scoring list with 1,175 points and could leap five spots in the next game simply by matching his season average, passing Sam Williams (1,176), Val Barnes (1,181), Dave Guenther (1,188), Bill Logan (1,188) and Kevin Boyle (1,189).
Bohannon moved into undisputed possession of 13th place on the scoring list Sunday. With 1,531 points, he is 30 behind 12th-place Dean Oliver.