5 things to know about incoming IU basketball player Payton Sparks, a Ball State transfer
Payton Sparks, a sophomore center from Ball State who was in the transfer portal, announced his commitment to Indiana University on Wednesday.
Sparks will enter IU as the Hoosiers look for frontcourt help with the departures of Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson. The Indiana native is listed at 6-9, 240 pounds.
'I just haven’t stopped smiling': Payton Sparks to IU makes for a full-circle journey
— Payton Sparks (@PaytonSparks6) March 29, 2023
Here are five things to know:
Payton Sparks attended Winchester High School in Indiana
When Sparks was a freshman at Winchester, he averaged 5 points and 6 rebounds per game. During his sophomore and junior seasons, his averages skyrocketed.
As a sophomore, he nearly tripled his scoring average (16.6 points) and nearly doubled his rebounds per game (11.3). His junior year was even better, averaging 21.9 points and 12.4 rebounds.
In 2021, Sparks was named to the small-school all-state team.
Sparks received Division I offers from Ball State, Elon, Hofstra, Florida Gulf Coast, Miami (Ohio), Purdue Fort Wayne, Robert Morris, Toledo, UW-Milwauke and Valparaiso.
At Ball State, Payton Sparks was named MAC Freshman of the Year
Sparks made an impact for Ball State immediately.
As a freshman, he led the team with 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while starting all 31 games. Sparks shot 53% from the floor and 70% from the free-throw line.
Sparks' 418 points are the third-most for a BSU freshman. He was named to the Kyle Macy Freshman All-America Team by College Insider, voted MAC Freshman of the Year, All-MAC Third Team, and MAC All-Freshman Team.
Payton Sparks entered the transfer portal after his freshman season at Ball State
This season wasn't the only time Sparks considered transferring.
Sparks entered the transfer portal in 2022 after his freshman year. The decision came less than 48 hours after Ball State announced it would not be bringing back head coach James Whitford for a 10th season.
During this time, Sparks heard from IU, among other schools.
"Indiana has been contacting me more and more lately,” Sparks told the IndyStar at the time. “Other schools I would say that have been talking to me, Loyola (Chicago). West Virginia’s been pretty persistent. Iowa State has been pretty persistent too. Cincinnati’s been pretty persistent."
He also said he wouldn't rule out staying at Ball State.
Payton Sparks had an impressive sophomore season at Ball State
Sparks decided to return to Muncie for his sophomore year and didn't disappoint.
His averages of 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds closely resembled his freshman season. He shot 59% from the floor and 53% from the free-throw line. A big improvement for Sparks came in the blocks department, as he totaled 29 during his sophomore year compared to 15 in his freshman campaign.
Payton Sparks video highlights
MAC Freshman of the Year (Ball State), 6'9 C Payton Sparks has hit the Portal. https://t.co/i4DAjHoHeB pic.twitter.com/QCkwzpZ9vC
— Intuition Hoops (@IntuitionHoops) March 17, 2022
TWO HUGE PLAYS FROM PAYTON SPARKS.
WOW. @dn_sports pic.twitter.com/gTXGVwe0G1
— Derran Cobb (@derran_cobb) February 4, 2023
PAYTON SPARKS 🤯🤯#ChirpChirp | #WeFly | #BSUFamily pic.twitter.com/z0siaVRWUD
— Ball State Men's Basketball (@BallStateMBB) January 15, 2022
PAYTON. SPARKS.🚀#ChirpChirp | #WeFly | #Family pic.twitter.com/NtiBedkdVE
— Ball State Men's Basketball (@BallStateMBB) December 12, 2021
🚨🏀 KC’s Dunk of the Day! 🏀🚨@BallStateMBB’s Payton Sparks crushes one over two defenders in an 81-64 win over Miami (OH). @MACSports pic.twitter.com/5HQTuVsdMR
— Kevin Connors (@kevconnorsespn) January 26, 2022
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana basketball: What to know about transfer Payton Sparks