Q&A: Ex-Wisconsin captain Zach Bohannon on Badgers, brother Jordan
With Wisconsin headed to its fourth straight Sweet 16 (Friday night vs. Florida) and his youngest brother, Jordan, fresh off a record-setting rookie season at Iowa, BTN.com reached out to former Wisconsin captain Zach Bohannon for an email Q&A.
Read the full Q&A below.
BTN.com How about we start with an update on what you’ve been up to since graduating?
ZB: I am currently back in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After I finished my MBA in finance at Wisconsin, I took a finance gig in Chicago for a year. I moved back home to manage a $20 million YMCA project going up in my hometown of Marion (Project Manager for a new Y in short). I am doing a little sports broadcasting with KCRG on the side as well.
BTN.com: Do you have any political desires? I know your Twitter profile photo and header photo feature you with Presidents.
ZB: I have never had any political “desires” or aspirations. Just a political calling in wanting to help make the world a better place.
BTN.com: You were a former captain, so is it safe to say you still follow Wisconsin?
ZB: After being a captain of the 2014 Final Four team, it has been a must to follow and keep tabs on Wisconsin, especially since I still have former teammates in the locker room now. After all, this is our “legacy” class that we mentored and taught the Wisconsin tradition to. However, I made a promise to my brother Jordan this season I would go to every one of his Iowa games, home and away. In accomplishing this feat, I missed my fair share of watching the Badgers this season. However, I will be proudly cheering them on in Madison Square Garden on Friday night!
BTN.com: Did this Sweet 16 run surprise you, especially the way the team struggled down the stretch?
ZB: I am not surprised one bit with their Sweet 16 run. I had predicted before the season they would win 28 games, win a championship and make it to at least the Elite 8, if not the Final Four. While they never won either Big Ten title I had predicted, they can still make up for that by winning four more games! In regards to their play down the stretch, after my brother hit the game-winning shot at Wisconsin to make them lose their fifth of seven games, I went down to the UW locker room area to talk to some of the players. I also chatted with a few of them in the days to follow. I reminded them that no matter what people say, our first Final Four team had lost five of seven in the middle of Big Ten play and still turned out okay. It was a matter of time this ship was going to be righted, and it is not the personality of BK (Bronson Koenig) or Nigel (Hayes) to quit in the face adversity!
BTN.com: You mention you knew this decorated senior class as young pups – any fun behind-the-scene stories about any of them?
ZB: Ben (Brust), Josh (Gasser), Frank (Kaminsky), Sam (Dekker) or anyone else you ask would agree that we are all shocked Vitto (Brown) has been able to mature into the two-year starter and great player he is after sleeping through more film sessions than not his freshman season!
BTN.com: Best thing Greg Gard ever told you?
ZB: Coach Gard and I had a very unique relationship when I was an athlete and he was our associate head coach. We had many sessions where we bounced basketball ideas off of each other, in addition to books we were reading, articles we had read, etc. One day he brought to me in the locker room “Colin Powell’s 13 Rules of Leadership” that I still have hung up on my bulletin board in my condo to this day. We all expected Coach Gard to do as well as he has done in the year and a half at the helm of the program.
BTN.com: Aside from teammates and fans, what do you miss most about Wisconsin?
ZB: *NERD ALERT* By far the thing I miss the most about Wisconsin is not having the ability to go drop in to any professor or advisor’s office to discuss and debate ideas, current events, and competing philosophies. I miss the intellectual curiosity of campus life and I make up for it as best as I can through emails to all of the people I greatly admire and were mentored while a student.
BTN.com: Is Jordan the best of the Bohannon bunch?
ZB: This question is a prime example of how I am extremely fortunate to have the three brothers that I do! How cool is it that we can even debate who the “best” of all of us is?! (Side note: I was a captain of a Final Four team, two-time academic all Big Ten, got three degrees (BA, MS, MBA) from Wisconsin, met two presidents, won a high school state championship and I am the all-time leading rebounder at Linn-Mar High School, and I get brushed aside as the “worst” of all of us without people thinking twice!) Jordan already showed glimpses of greatness his freshman season at Iowa, but he has a long way to go to match what my brothers Jason and Matt did in their careers. Both were 1,000-point scorers and set records of their own, including Matt shattering the 3-point record at Northern Iowa. Matt easily wins the award for biggest improvement and most underrated. He would have been a outstanding Big Ten player if he was given the chance, but he needed one more year to mature to get to that level, which is why he redshirted at UNI his first year there. (Other side note: He regularly texts with Kurt Warner now, how cool is that?!)
BTN.com: Did you and Jason pressure Jordan at all to go to Wisconsin?
ZB: All four of us Bohannon boys were born blocks away from both of our parents alma mater in Iowa City. In a perfect world, all four of us would be Hawkeyes and living out the dream of playing for the state’s flagship basketball program. However, fate and several coaches along the way dealt us a different hand. Jason and I are extremely happy Jordan is able to fulfill his lifelong dream of being the starting point guard for the University of Iowa, regardless the school loyalties we have! In short, there was no pressure whatsoever on Jordan going to Wisconsin and we are excited he chose to stay close to home.
BTN.com: Do you have a favorite story from a family pickup game?
ZB: One of my favorite stories from a family pickup game (I could write a book on these!) happened a year and a half or so ago in June of 2015. After my eligibility was exhausted at Wisconsin in 2014, I went to Wall Street for an internship, and after trained heavily for my Ironman triathlon I completed later that fall. I never really found the time to get back on the basketball court all the way until that next summer of 2015, when I was home for a bit. I went to the gym a couple times to work out my brother Jordan, who was finishing up his final AAU season and starting his high school senior year. I always went to the gym in shorts, a t-shirt and running shoes because I sometimes would run home after for a workout. After a couple times at the gym Jordan was getting cocky and started talking trash to me that he could beat me one on one. He furthermore kept calling me a chicken and saying I was scared to lose to my youngest brother. Deep down I knew I was going to play, but I acted like I had no desire to (after all I had not played since the Final Four). After him continuing his banter, I started tightening up my running shoes. I asked for ten shots to warm up and then I would be ready. I told him to “shut up and watch.” I proceeded to beat him five straight games, not letting him score in even two of them (21-0, 21-14, 22-10, 22-0 and 21-8). In the last game and my final score, I just walked out of the gym. After my “warmup,” I decided to go get a real workout in and ran a few miles home. Upon arrival, I wrote down the scores on a Post-it note, gave him the note and told him he has a long ways to go still.