The Wisconsin Badgers basketball team has recently been in contact with star Ball State transfer Payton Sparks. Sparks entered the portal after the Ball State basketball team failed to make a postseason tournament. The highly touted portal entry will now have the chance to join a major program ahead of next season to fully showcase his talent on a bigger stage.
Wisconsin Badgers Basketball: Can Payton Sparks Fit?
Sparks is a six foot nine inch, 240 pound center from Winchester, Indiana. As a true freshman, Sparks started 31 games and averaged 13.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game for Ball State. In 2022, Sparks again started all 31 games while averaging 13.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game while also recording 22 more assists. In two seasons, Sparks scored 829 points in his 62 starts and also received the 2022 MAC Freshman of the Year award.
As a sophomore, Sparks did struggle from the line as he shot 52% from the line compared to 70% as a freshman. The sophomore was also named second team all-conference in the MAC this past season and was the only underclassmen to do so. The Ball State Cardinals finished fourth in the MAC with a 20-12 record this past season after going 14-17 a year ago.
Ball State transfer Payton Sparks has heard from from the following schools per source.
Sparks averaged 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds this season.
— Dushawn London (@DushawnLondon1) March 20, 2023
After two personally successful years where the team did not do quite as well, Sparks has chosen to enter the transfer portal for the second time already. Following his freshman of the year campaign with the losing Cardinals squad, Sparks entered his name in the portal and received interest from Illinois and Ohio State among others. However, Sparks ultimately chose to return to the Ball State Cardinals for his sophomore season.
Dushawn London of 247 Sports reported that many teams have already contacted Sparks after the center has been in the portal for less than a week. While Sparks may not have the size or length outside at six foot nine, his shooting ability inside makes up for the lack of range. Last season Sparks shot 59.2% on all of his two point shots and grew as a tenacious rebounder.
With Tyler Wahl nearing the end of his fifth year, the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team will need to find another physical presence to enter the team. Payton Sparks is a smooth, physical center that can slide past defenders in the paint. At six foot nine, Sparks may not be the biggest player at his position anymore, but he is still an extremely physical player inside. The 240 pound center uses his body to punish defenders as he backs down the hoop.
The second time will likely be the real one for Payton Sparks, as it seems unlikely that Ball State will be an option. As a freshman the center was already gaining a fair amount of attention, but after another, more successful season Sparks will have more programs to choose from. The Badgers could be a great team for Sparks as his dominance on the inside could prove to be vital against other tough interiors.
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