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Stuhoo

(2021) C Payton Sparks

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Was at the Maryland game. Was shorter and not at all in shape earlier in his high school career. Has grown to 6'9" 260 lbs, and is starting to dominate Indiana 2A ball. A seriously under-the-radar late bloomer. Un-ranked and completely unheard of by any major service. Between his soph and junior years? Big increases in blocks, steals (and scoring). The trend of a kid who is becoming more athletic.

Maxpreps has his stats:

Game Stats

Year Grade Team GP MPG PPG DEFR OFFR RPG APG SPG BPG TPG PFPG
Varsity Totals     50   14.7 6.1 3.7 9.7 1.3 0.9 1.1 2.3 2.4
19-20 Junior Varsity 13   23.4 7.2 4.5 11.8 2.0 1.5 1.8 3.1 2.2
18-19 Sophomore Varsity 20   16.6 7.1 4.2 11.3 1.5 0.8 1.1 2.6 2.6
17-18 Freshman Varsity 17   5.8 4.1 2.4 6.4 0.6 0.6 0.5 1.5 2.4

 

 

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The Daily Hoosier thinks we have a real interest in Payton Sparks:

PAYTON SPARKS (2021)

Peyton-Sparks.png?resize=804%2C453&ssl=1

With so many high profile in-state players in the class of 2021, one name that has flown under the radar to this point is Winchester, Ind. forward Payton Sparks.  That appears to be changing.

While perhaps a new name to many, a source tells The Daily Hoosier that Indiana is serious about the 6-foot-7 Sparks and taking a close look.

According to his MaxPreps page, Sparks is averaging 23.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game for Winchester.

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The Daily Hoosier thinks we have a real interest in Payton Sparks:

PAYTON SPARKS (2021)

Peyton-Sparks.png?resize=804,453%26ssl=1&key=52dafc4259af51e52879d23c63c4f1837734146b130565d8c8c42465a5e3fa37

With so many high profile in-state players in the class of 2021, one name that has flown under the radar to this point is Winchester, Ind. forward Payton Sparks.  That appears to be changing.

While perhaps a new name to many, a source tells The Daily Hoosier that Indiana is serious about the 6-foot-7 Sparks and taking a close look.

According to his MaxPreps page, Sparks is averaging 23.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game for Winchester.


There is some real developmental upside here. I like it. No to mention he’s been drawing interest from a lot of schools recently. Not saying he needs an offer yet but I like that the staff is showing some interest.


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^^Starting to get there athletically^^

A little more research:

  • His first college offer was two months ago, from Taylor University. 
  • Cincinnati, Toldeo, Valpo, and Northern Kentucky in to take a look in early December

First D1 offer from Miami of Ohio offered on December 21st 2019

 

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I’ve seen him live five times now including during Blackfords epic 24 point collapse last week.  Positives are the kid has a soft shooting touch ( especially from the line ). Also the kid appeared to have a decent attitude.  He also protected the rim fairly solidly ( for what that may be worth against a Blackford team that doesn’t attack the basketball well and has no players over 6’2 that play near the rim )
 

I respectfully disagree with any interest.

his footwork is noticeably slow, he has difficulty Getting up and down the floor in transition offense or defense.  He is a roving rim protector but wasn’t sticking well to his man and if you can’t stay with your Blackford post player you have issues.  Additionally for what big kids like tai McClung ( 3 inches shorter ) have done to Blackford he literally should have /could have scored 60 points if he put his body to work.  Also luke is maybe one of the more clever olayers I’ve ever seen but he got 5-6 shots at the rim against this guy without getting blocked which shouldn’t happen every time at his size.  
 

Just what I’ve seen ...I know nothing about his character or work ethic or family background etc 

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I will say that in either the first or second quarter he had a baseline spin move for a layup up that I completely didn’t expect given my previous assessment but it was the only real “ next level “ flash I saw ...you never know if he’ll grown more , drop some weight , or turn some weight into muscle so it’s worth watching but I wouldn’t get my hopes real high ...if you put him against a Caleb Furst it would be a massacre but I like that it’s an under the Radar prospect who has a full year to develop more  

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1 minute ago, Stuhoo said:

 

There's NO question that in the limited video he does not run well.

I guess the question for me is ... how quickly has he progressed recently, and how good can he be?

 

I watched him as a freshman and was intrigued because I thought “wow this kid could be unreal by his senior year “  ...he has gotten taller but he is basically the exact same speed and nothing else has changed.  If you watch him against some of the East central Indiana teams they play ( many common opponents with Blackford ) he is the tallest on the court by 4-5 inches.  He is not UNathletic so with some with some drive and hard work he should be a 30-15 kid every night at 2A and he isn’t yet.  Like I said I wouldn’t close the door but if you get a minute the bruinsportsnetwork on YouTube will have last year and this years game to watch.  I recommend doing so on mute but last year they put a 5’11 junior on him most of the game and that frustrated him and this year I found myself scratching my head at the Winchester coach for not finding better ways to utilize him.  He literally could have scored on every possession against Blackford 

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2 minutes ago, Fkfootball1 said:

I don’t think we should ever recruit a guy that isn’t in the 247/Rivals 150. That’s how you end up with guys like Tim Priller and Jeremiah April. This is Indiana. Lander, Kaufman, Furst, Wesley, Goode. Those are the kind of guys that play at Indiana.


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Agree that’s who we should go after ...disagree with limiting ourselves to that demographic ....a good staff digs for the guys no one else knows about ...not only are those the good stories to root for but the ones that pan out tend to be Four year program foundations.  They are more miss than hit outside the top 150 but there are some unreal success stories just without our own state outside those rankings.  Our last eight years we’ve had some amazing athletes who either don’t get after it themselves to improve or don’t end up having translatable basketball iq and it can really cause the team to be set back.  Rankings can also be skewed and biased.  I want a staff that will go find basketball players regardless of where they are ranked 

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Ive watched Sparks several times. I think he has improved a bunch this year. He has a soft jumper and average athleticism for his size. Pretty good shot blocker but not sure that would translate against better talent. Needs to be more aggressive IMO. I think he missed half of last season with an injury. I know he plays summer ball but not sure which team. I see him more as a mid major level talent.

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5 minutes ago, Alford Bailey said:

Ive watched Sparks several times. I think he has improved a bunch this year. He has a soft jumper and average athleticism for his size. Pretty good shot blocker but not sure that would translate against better talent. Needs to be more aggressive IMO. I think he missed half of last season with an injury. I know he plays summer ball but not sure which team. I see him more as a mid major level talent.

I completely agree ...very soft touch I was very surprised with his free throws.  I’m shocked at the lack of Aggression  with His size and if you put him against bigger guards than what he sees now  and post players his size and bigger I don’t think he’s there at a big ten level ...again he could stretch more or get quicker but right now he simply can’t get up and down the floor as would be needed in power 6 play 

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Just now, Class of '66 Old Fart said:

For those familiar with this kid and the Winchester program can you give us an evaluation of his high school coach and his ability to move this kid's development?

Great question ...I dealt with the junior high coches frequently in travel basketball but am not familiar with the head coach.  I’ll reach out to a couple folks I know in Randolph county and the surrounding area ...if you get a chance to watch the Blackford game I think you’ll see what I mean in regards to eye brow raising set ups because either the kid is oddly u aggressive or they just don’t make an emphasis to utilize what is clearly their best weapon 

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3 minutes ago, IU/Butler/Notre Dame said:

Great question ...I dealt with the junior high coches frequently in travel basketball but am not familiar with the head coach.  I’ll reach out to a couple folks I know in Randolph county and the surrounding area ...if you get a chance to watch the Blackford game I think you’ll see what I mean in regards to eye brow raising set ups because either the kid is oddly unaggressive or they just don’t make it an emphasis to utilize what is clearly their best weapon 

 

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Since this is Stu's latest 'love child'.    :103:

Star Press - 

For as long as Wayde Sickels can remember, Payton Sparks has always been the biggest guy on the basketball court.

"You look at the pictures since third grade, he's always been a foot taller than everybody else," Sickels, Winchester's junior point guard, said after a 53-43 win against Yorktown Tuesday night. "Every year, it seems like he grows about four inches."

Against the Tigers, Sparks finished with a game-high 30 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks. The 6-foot-9 junior forward willed his way to the basket time after time as he recorded his third 30-plus point performance this season and fourth in his career. 

Sparks' impact on the court is impossible to miss, but for a while Winchester — like its dominant big man — might've been overlooked. But as Sparks has continued to gain the attention of a growing list of Division I colleges, the Golden Falcons have continued to churn out wins. Tuesday marked another impressive game not only for Sparks, but for the Golden Falcons, who earned their ninth win in the past 10 games.

After a 1-4 start, Winchester (10-5) has been on a tear since the mid-December. In the past three weeks, the Golden Falcons claimed the Randolph County championship with a win over Monroe Central, earned a come-from-behind overtime victory over a Luke Brown-led Blackford team and, most recently, beat a Class 3A foe in Yorktown by double-digits.

"There's chemistry right now," Sparks said of Winchester's success. "We're playing like a family, and that's making it work. We're all working hard."

Minutes after the Yorktown win, Sparks emerged from the locker room. He chatted with those who approached him and obliged when asked to take photos on the baseline of Winchester Fieldhouse. That hard work that he mentioned, it starts with him. More then 10 minutes after the game had ended, Sparks was still wiping beads of sweat off of his head.

Off the court, he doesn't say much. That's because, on the court, Sparks' game does all the talking. 

Last season, he averaged a double-double with 16.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Respectable numbers, but there's a reason he's visited several Division I colleges — Cincinnati, Dayton, Indiana, Miami (Ohio), Northern Kentucky, Toledo and Valparaiso — this season and not last.

"Last year, I kind of played back instead of commanding, dominating," Sparks said. "But this year, I've kind of been taking that role now." 

Command and dominate, that's what Sparks did Tuesday night. He scored the first 10 points of the game for Winchester and finished the first quarter four rebounds away from his tenth double-double of the season, which he would get the next quarter.

Even when he received contact from two defenders at a time in Yorktown's 6-3 center JJ Evans and 6-1 guard Walker Moore, Sparks found a way to finish at the rim more often than not. 

Coming into the game, he averaged 23.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. According to MaxPreps, those numbers put him at No. 15 in points and No. 7 in rebounds per game across the entire state. 

"He’s worked a ton over the summer, he’s really come along since last year," Sickels said. "I mean, whenever we really need a bucket we can pass it in there and give it to him, and he’ll get us going. He’s really good at seeing the floor, too, so he can pass it back to us. It’s just good, it’s fun playing with him.”

This offseason, Sparks worked tirelessly on his game. Every day, he would be in the gym, working on his post moves, dribbling, whatever he needed to do. That work appears to be paying off, as Sparks earned his first college scholarship offer from Taylor University in November.

"He's just a real special player," coach Dustin Baldwin said. "The big thing is he's a good teammate. He shares the ball really well. I mean, he's not afraid to kick to cutters and kick to shooters and that's a big deal when teams have to double and triple-team him."

Sparks is one of this biggest guys in East Central Indiana, allowing him to snag rebounds and score on command. While he spends most of his time in the paint, he can also shoot 3s and dribble like a guard, which is uncommon for guy of his stature.

"His moves are so strong and he’s got a few different moves that he can use," Baldwin said. "He’s been able to step out and shoot a little bit more. Transition wise, he’s a little faster than what he was in the past. Just his overall body, he’s gotten stronger, he’s gotten quicker."

As Sparks has continued to improve and grow as a player, so to has Winchester as a team. With their 10th win this season, the Golden Falcons are one victory away from matching last year's win total with seven regular season games remaining. 

The Golden Falcons average 67 points per game offensively, which ranks 38th in the state and ninth among Class 2A teams. Utilizing almost a near-identical roster from last season, Baldwin says the biggest difference this year has been the Golden Falcons' ability to grow and continue to come together as a team.

"We’re just playing as a team, offensively we have different guys stepping up, guys making shots," Baldwin said. "Defensively, just multiple people stepping up and guarding their best players or getting rebounds. Right now, we just have eight guys that just keep playing hard, try to do the little things the right way. For the last couple months, we’ve been doing that.”

Guys in sophomore Brooks Burelison, who scored 35 points against Blackford, and Sickels, who leads the team in assists (4.8) and steals per game (2.2), have been among those who have stepped up right alongside Sparks.

Eventually, Sparks wants to go on to play basketball in college and possibly beyond. Before that, however, there's some more immediate goals in mind.  "Win conference and then when we get to sectionals, win that, too," Sparks said. 

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Glad we’re getting our foot in the door, he definitely seems like he has the potential to grow into something special. But right now he’s definitely a project and it’s best to keep in touch but see how he does playing against better competition in the summer and improving his game before offering.

 

 

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