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Is there a young Iowa guard flying under the radar?
While, yes, most of the attention for next year’s men’s basketball team is firmly placed on Kris Murray, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein tweeted out about another potential breakout star for the Hawkeyes.
That breakout candidate is sophomore-to-be Payton Sandfort. The 6-foot-7 wing out of Waukee High School in Iowa earned praise from Rothstein following an inaugural campaign where he averaged five points and 1.9 rebounds per game in just 10.5 minutes of average floor time.
Iowa's Payton Sandfort averaged 11.7 PPG in games last season where he logged 15 or more minutes. 6-7 wing is in line for a breakout season as a sophomore.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 25, 2022
As demonstrated by Rothstein, Sandfort didn’t play a ton of minutes in the 2021-22 season. When on the court for extended periods of time, he looked like a guy Iowa could count on in the future. As Rothstein noted, Sandfort averaged 11.7 points per game in contests where he logged 15 or more minutes of floor time.
Hawkeye fans saw early in the season Sandfort’s potential against some tuneup opponents in early November. Sandfort scored a career-high 21 points against SWAC opponent Alabama State. He then dropped 19 the following game against Western Michigan, sinking five of his seven 3-point attempts.
His performance under the bright lights of the Big Ten Tournament was encouraging as well. In his 15 minutes of action against Northwestern in the tournament’s opening round, Sandfort scored 13 points and added three buckets from long range. Against Purdue in the conference championship game, he scored 10 points off the bench and didn’t miss a single shot.
There is a lot of hope for a big sophomore breakout from Sandfort this upcoming year, and it would really boost Iowa’s chances of repeating as Big Ten Tournament champions. Iowa lost some key contributors this offseason. Recent No. 4 overall 2023 NBA draft selection Keegan Murray is the obvious one, but Jordan Bohannon started for about a half-decade.
The hope is that Kris Murray can follow in the footsteps of his twin brother, Patrick McCaffery can live up to some of the preseason love he’s garnered and then Iowa can find production in other places as well.
Sandfort showed a lot of potential as a shooter coming off the bench his freshman year, and those key performances in the Big Ten Tournament are very exciting. If he can take his game to another level, his partnership with Murray alongside a returning Patrick McCaffrey and Filip Rebraca could take Iowa back into the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Follow Jacob on Twitter: @Jacobkeppen
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