Iowa senior Patrick McCaffery steps away from team, offers candid account of his struggles with anxiety

BUFFALO, NEW YORK - MARCH 17:  Patrick McCaffery #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes looks on during the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Richmond Spiders at KeyBank Center on March 17, 2022 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Patrick McCaffery is taking a leave of absence from Iowa basketball. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Iowa senior starter Patrick McCaffery announced on Tuesday that he was taking a leave of absence from the team to address anxiety.

He offered a candid account of his struggles with anxiety in a statement shared by Iowa basketball.

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"I have been battling anxiety for a while, and recently it has peaked, which has inhibited my preparation and performance on the court," McCaffery's statement reads. "It's not fair to my myself or my teammates to be on the court when I am not myself.

"The anxiety has affected my sleep, appetite and stamina, which has resulted in not having the energy level necessary to compete at my full capabilities. My struggle with anxiety affects every aspect of my well-being and makes it incredibly difficult to function normally. This is what I'm dealing with right now."

McCaffery also wrote that his absence will be indefinite and that he'll return "when I feel like myself."

McCaffery was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when he was 13 and had his thyroid removed as a result. He was declared cancer-free after a grueling ordeal and since went on to become a four-star basketball prospect before joining Iowa in 2019. He wrote on Tuesday that his leave is "not related to my past battle with cancer."

McCaffery is the son of Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery. Fran offered support for his son on Tuesday as he takes his leave.

"Patrick is one of the millions of people who battle through anxiety on a daily basis," a statement from Fran McCaffery reads. “It has become more noticeable on and off the court over the past couple weeks. Patrick has the full support of his family, coaches, teammates and administration as he fights through this.

"All of us admire his courage and willingness to be open about this struggle. And we hope others know that they are not alone. We will be with him every step of the way.”

McCaffery, a 6-9 forward, is in his second season as a full-time starter. In 14 games this season, he's averaged 12.8 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 39.7% from the floor. He's the team's third-leading scorer. The Hawkeyes are 8-6 and 0-3 in Big Ten play.