We’re inside of two months until college basketball is back in action and Iowa fans haven’t been this excited heading into a season in over a generation. The Hawkeyes are entering the 2020 season as a top-5 team nationally with aspirations of winning a Big Ten championship and making a run at a Final Four.
With big time performance on the floor comes media recognition and a bump in recruiting. For Fran McCaffery and the Hawkeyes, however, the recruiting success starts with building blocks before they can utilize that press from a major run to go big game hunting.
The class of 2021, therefore, needs to be filled with high floor players who can lay the foundation for the next run. On Thursday, the Hawkeyes got just that as 3-star Waukee small forward Payton Sandfort announced his commitment to the University of Iowa.
Sandfort is what Iowa fans have come to think of as a prototypical McCaffery recruit. He’s a long 6’7” (approaching 6’8”) forward who excels beyond the arc even if he won’t blow you away with his quickness or leaping ability, though those aren’t major negatives either.
As a junior last season at Waukee, Sandfort shot 53.7% from the field and 45.3% from deep en route to averaging 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. On film, his game is reminiscent of former Hawkeye Nicholas Baer. The two are similar in stature and each can consistently knock down open looks from virtually anywhere on the floor. Sandfort, however, does appear to have a bit more athleticism than Baer and some better ball handling out of the gate.
Sandfort chose Iowa over offers from Minnesota, Stanford, Utah, Air Force and Drake. In a first-person essay for the Des Moines Register, Sandfort said he chose the Hawkeyes because it just felt right.
I just felt like, throughout the whole recruiting process, I’ve been really valued by Iowa. I’m going to have a chance to come in and play right away. I love the coaches. I love the campus. Carver-Hawkeye Arena had a great atmosphere when I was in Iowa City. I’ve gotten close with some of the players. So I’m really eager to join the program.
As for what he’ll bring to Iowa City, Sandfort told the Des Moines Register he’s ready to help the team win right away.
When I come in, I’m going to do everything I can to win. I’m going to work my hardest, and I’m going to try to set a great example for the younger kids by my actions and what I say and do. I’m going to hopefully make an immediate impact. I’ll work to get as many minutes as I can and just to win games for Hawkeye nation.
That will be music to Hawkeye fans’ ears.
Sandfort is Iowa’s first commitment in the class of 2021. The class is likely to have at least one more recruit as Iowa will lose seniors Luka Garza and Jordan Bohannon to graduation this offseason. The Hawkeyes signed five commits in the class of 2020 and with Patrick McCaffery taking a redshirt in 2019, the freshman class has six players holding scholarships.
Of note for Iowa fans, Payton has a younger brother, Pryce, who is a highly regarded prospect in the class of 2023. That’s the same class as the youngest McCaffery brother, as well as Joe Wieskamp’s younger brother. Iowa is currently slated to have three scholarships available in the class of ‘23.
Welcome to the Hawkeye family Payton Sandfort!