By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Payton Sandfort figured he was finished growing when he joined the Iowa basketball team as a freshman last season.
He was wrong.
“Since the end of year, I grew an inch, actually,” Sandfort said Wednesday before practice.
Sandfort said he is now just under 6-foot-8 after having played last season at 6-6 1/2.
“I didn’t expect that,” Sandfort said. “I hadn’t grown in a couple years, but I’ll take it.”
Sandfort said he is currently working out at shooting guard, small forward, and now even some at power forward thanks to his unexpected growth spurt.
“I’m just trying to get on the floor anyway I can,” Sandfort said.
The Waukee native played shooting guard and small forward last season as a freshman and averaged five points per game as a key reserve. His 34 3-point baskets were fourth most on the team and the eighth most ever by a Hawkeye freshman.
Sandfort also made 15-of-16 free throw attempts last season, and his ability to make free throws should make him a key player down the stretch in close games, especially since former point guard Jordan Bohannon has used up his eligibility.
Iowa always tried to get Bohannon the ball in the closing seconds of close games because of his ability to make free throws.
Sandfort will likely have that important role moving forward.
And though he struggled for stretches in Big Ten play, Sandfort came on strong near the end of the season and played a key role in Iowa’s march to the Big Ten Tournment title.
“It’s a real up-and-down experience,” Sandfort said. “I think I grew a lot as a player, but more importantly as a person. You have to go through a lot of trouble to get where you want to be. And I real proud of myself for how I handled a lot of adversity. I kind of really got rolling at the end of the year and take that into next year.”
Asked what he is working on the most during the offseason, Sandfort said:
“I think it starts at the defensive end just being quicker and more able to guard varying position and then just continue to improve on some of my strengths and athleticim and stuff like that.”
Sandfort is also working to recruit his little brother, Pryce Sandfort, to Iowa.
Pryce Sandfort is a 6-7 small forward in the 2023 senior class. He currently has scholarship offers from Iowa, Drake, Nebraska and Washington State.
“I’ve been pushing him a little bit,” Payton Sandfort said. “I wasn’t at first. But I really loved my first year here and told him all about it and everything we did.
“It’s his own process. I don’t want to force him into anything. But, obviously, it would be real fun to play with him.”