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The torch of Prime Time

BY KYLE MANN | JUNE 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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In last summer’s Prime Time League, there was league MVP Jarrod Uthoff. There was future NBA draft pick Aaron White. There were Iowa’s 7-1 Adam Woodbury and Northern Iowa’s Missouri Valley Player of the Year and Naismith Award finalist Seth Tuttle. 

And then there was one man nobody could stop: Matt Bohannon. 

He torched the league last summer, leading it with 28 points per game, and after a 41-point explosion June 25, it’s quite obvious he’s back for more. 

Coach Brendan Unkrich’s team defeated the Adam Woodbury-led Dan Ahrens’ team, 114-101, on June 25, largely due to Bohannon’s 41. To his credit, however, it should be noted that Mike Gesell also threw in a humble 52. 

But while Gesell dazzled observers with his ability to penetrate, Bohannon put on a show of his own, pouring in buckets from long range. The 6-4 guard caught fire in the first half, making six 3s, and finished 9-of-14 on the night.

The shot attempts may be abnormal compared with regular-season action, but this is Prime Time, and the man was hot. 

“It’s a good atmosphere in front of fans; it’s just fun,” Bohannon said. “And there’s structure, but at the same time, you have the freedom to maybe do some things you’re not allowed to do in the regular season.”

He now sits at 32.5 points per game, shooting 57 percent from beyond the arc — and combined with Gesell, who quite frankly turned in the performance of the summer with 52 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds — Unkrich seems to have the most lethal backcourt duo in the league. 

“Mike is such a high-character guy, such a great leader out on the floor, and he’s giving everything he’s got,” Unkrich said. “Bohannon is a high-character guy, too, and he’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen.”

Unkrich isn’t speaking hyperbolically, either, and basketball fans in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area know it well. Bohannon comes from a highly regarded basketball family, going through Linn-Mar High in Marion and making a mockery of Prime Time defenders is simply an extension of his high-school days. 

Gesell is quite aware of that. 

“I’ve played with Matt since I was like 14; we played on the same AAU Team, the Martin Brothers,” Gesell said. “[Northern Iowa] had one of the better teams in the country last year, and he was a big part of that. He can really stretch the floor. He’s a tremendous shooter, so he’s hard to match up with because if you relax for a second, he’s going to whack a 3 in your face.”

Bohannon holds the Northern Iowa record for made 3s in Missouri Valley games and enters his final season fourth in overall 3s made in program history. He’s performed at a high level everywhere he goes, so perhaps the only next logical step is to inevitably take Panther fans back to the Ali Farokhmanesh days of knocking off top seeds in the NCAA Tournament. 

But let’s not get too far ahead. No pressure. 

For now, Bohannon will host shooting clinics at the North Liberty Community Center and Waterloo SportsPlex every Thursday. Perhaps the fan who approached him after his 41-point performance put it best:

“Excuse me,” the older man interjected as Bohannon spoke with reporters. “I’ve never enjoyed a game as much as yours. You’re so smooth, it’s frightening.”

Follow @KyleFMann for news, updates, and analysis of Prime Time League basketball.


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