Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Jack Nunge can’t wait to play basketball again.

The accounting major had a solid freshman season with the Hawkeyes in 2017-18, starting 14 games and putting up a career best 18 points against 14th-ranked Ohio State.

But he’s barely seen a court since.

Starting his sophomore season, he wanted to play a more prominent role on the team, but he knew he was buried on the roster behind Tyler Cook, who now plays in the NBA, and Luka Garza, a future national player of the year honoree. So he decided to redshirt for a season and spend more time in the weight room and practice court to develop his game and his body.

“I knew if I took a year off to get stronger and quicker, I’d come into the next season in a better position to succeed,” says the All-Big Ten Academic honoree power forward from Newburgh, Ind.

But five games into the 2019-20 season, disaster struck when he blew out his ACL driving to the hoop against Cal Poly. Another redshirt season followed to rebuild strength in his surgically repaired knee. The rehab has gone well and he’s on track to rejoin a loaded team that’s expected to challenge not only for a Big Ten title this season, but a national championship.

“We’ve got a diverse skill set and can bring a lot of different looks to the court,” he says. “We’re going to have a target on our backs, so we have to work twice as hard and not let it go to our heads.”

But now, after overcoming the depth chart and a blown ACL, another obstacle could delay his return as the COVID-19 pandemic raises questions about the season. Nunge isn’t worried, though. He says uncertainty is just a part of the game.

“I’ve had to deal with a lot of adversity already,” he says. “You just take every day for what it is and control what you can control.”

This article first appeared in the winter 2021 issue of Tippie Magazine. We learned of the passing of Jack’s father, Dr. Mark Nunge, as the magazine went to press. Our heartfelt condolences to Jack and his family.