Iowa guard Eric May was hampered with a back injury the last two months of his junior season, which limited his effectiveness in a variety of ways.
May, a 6-foot-5 incoming senior from Dubuque, started the first 21 games last year. His final start was against Nebraska on Jan. 26, when he played 19 minutes. The back injury forced him to miss the next game on Feb. 1 against Minnesota and one more on Feb. 18 against Indiana. In the final 10 games he played, May totaled 39 minutes and made one basket in 10 shots.
“That was tough on him,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said last week. “He’s got tremendous athletic talent and then all the sudden you get a pulled hammy or a bad back, you don’t have any explosiveness. He was battling for us defensively, which is where we needed him to be.”
McCaffery said May is “better” now and poised to return as a vital contributor next year.
“He’s my captain,” McCaffery said. “We had our end-of-the-year meetings, and we’re very positive for next year.”
May started his career auspiciously, starting 23 games as a freshman and earning a spot on the Big Ten’s all-freshman squad. He averaged 9.0 points and 4.6 rebounds that season.
As a sophomore, May suffered a leg injury in December which bothered him throughout the season. He started 25 games and averaged 7.8 points.
Last year, May was the most impressive player during offseason workouts, McCaffery said. May rewarded McCaffery by totaling 46 points in Iowa’s first three games, including tying a career best with 20 points against North Carolina A&T. But May struggled to stay healthy and lacked on-court consistency the rest of the season.
“Nobody was playing better than him at the beginning of last year, including Matt (Gatens),” McCaffery said. “(May) was playing better than anybody. Then when the games started, he wasn’t as good. He was still pretty good, then he got hurt. He wasn’t the same.”
May will be the only scholarship senior on next year’s roster and has 69 career starts. He will have plenty of competition for playing time with five incoming freshmen, including three guards (Mike Gesell, Patrick Ingram, Anthony Clemmons). Iowa also returns incoming guards Josh Oglesby (sophomore) and Devyn Marble (junior) plus forwards Aaron White (sophomore) and Zach McCabe (junior), who can slide to small forward.
McCaffery said the depth chart isn’t a deterrent for May entering next season.
“He wants to go after a starting position,” McCaffery said. “I’m sure he feels like if he’s healthy he can go get it.”