Iowa basketball star receives 2024 NBA draft combine invite

Iowa men’s basketball has the opportunity this summer to extend their streak of players drafted into the NBA. Since 2021, four Hawkeyes have heard their names called at the NBA draft.

Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp were second-round picks in 2021. Twin brothers Keegan and Kris Murray would become first-round picks in back-to-back drafts in 2022 and 2023. Now, Payton Sandfort is the newest Iowa player with his sights set on the NBA.

It was announced on Friday that Iowa guard Payton Sandfort received an invitation to the 2024 NBA draft combine. Taking place May 12-19 in Chicago, Sandfort is one of 78 players who received an NBA draft combine invitation.

How he performs at the combine will be a major sign of the direction Payton Sandfort plans to take. If he impresses and raises his draft stock, there’s a good shot Sandfort could remain in what is seen by the consensus as a very weak draft.

However, Sandfort enters the combine maintaining his collegiate eligibility. The 6-foot-7, 215 pound forward could very well just be testing the waters, seeing what he has to improve on in his senior season in order to lock himself into an NBA draft pick of the future.

With a year of eligibility remaining, Sandfort’s decision will be extremely important for Iowa. The Waukee, Iowa, native was the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer last season, averaging 16.4 points per game. It really felt as though his game finally started to come together after showing great flashes his first two seasons with the Hawkeyes.

Now a full-time starter, Sandfort showed that he is capable of being a go-to scorer for the Hawks. Through his first two years, Sandfort was a player who impressed in spurts.

Last season, it all really started to click, though. Sandfort sank nearly three 3-pointers per game on average and shot 37.9% from 3-point range.

The Hawkeyes have some impressive young pieces on the roster with point guard Brock Harding and reigning Co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year Owen Freeman at forward. However, even with the young emerging talent, the squad still needs that leader who can be counted on every night to put the ball into the basket.

Iowa also added Morehead State transfer guard Drew Thelwell to its roster last month. This past season, Thelwell averaged 10.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. The Orlando product shot 43.5% from the floor and 33.8% from 3-point range. Thelwell netted 64.5% of his free throw tries.

Sandfort has until May 29 to make his final NBA draft decision.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire