IOWA CITY — Cedar Rapids Washington senior guard Wes Washpun was overlooked throughout much of his senior season, garnering offers only from mid-major programs Missouri State and North Dakota State through the end of March.
In the last week, everything changed for Washpun. Iowa and Tennessee both offered him scholarships, and on Sunday afternoon Washpun ultimately picked Tennessee based his relationship with new Volunteers Coach Cuonzo Martin. While at Missouri State, Martin offered Washpun a scholarship and watched him play throughout his senior season. Martin kept in contact with Washpun after he replaced Bruce Pearl at Tennessee.
“Coach Martin told me earlier in the week around Monday he planned to meet with the kids he had already signed and then he was about to make a decision to offer me and most likely offer me,” Washpun said. “My relationship with Coach Martin recruiting me all along really weighed on me. When he was at Missouri State he was recruiting me and telling me I was his guy and when he went to Tennessee he told me I was his guy. That never really changed.
“This is where I feel like I fit in best.”
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery made a hard push for the 6-foot-1 point guard. One day after Iowa point guard Cully Payne decided to transfer, McCaffery offered Washpun a scholarship on Tuesday, and Washpun visited the Iowa campus on Thursday. For Washpun, a lifelong Iowa fan, that made his decision more difficult, as did having family located in both Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
“It was hard thing to turn them down,” Washpun said. “I grew up an Iowa Hawkeye fan.
“I liked (McCaffery). He’s a good guy. When they offered me, he came very hard. I really respect him. I think he’ll push them in right direction.”
Washpun said he never was frustrated with Iowa for not offering him a scholarship earlier, like they had with high school teammate Josh Oglesby. Martin told Washpun he will have every opportunity to play right away for Tennessee, Washpun recalled.
Washpun averaged 18 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4 assists a game for Cedar Rapids Washington, which qualified for the Class 4A state tournament. Washington Coach Brad Metzger called Washpun “a diamond in the rough.”
“He can defend at a high level,” Metzger said. “He can push the ball at a high level. He can jump at a high level. If you can teach him to rebound, he can contest shots. What everyone will be hung up on is a one-year shooting percentage that was low from the free-throw line.
“When he fixes that … he’s going to be one of those diamonds in the rough that people wish they had because he’s only going to get more impressive as he grows up.”
Iowa still has three open scholarships for the upcoming season. Washpun is the third Cedar Rapids-area player to spurn McCaffery and the Hawkeyes in the last nine months. Cedar Rapids Jefferson senior forward Jarrod Uthoff picked Wisconsin over Iowa last summer. Linn-Mar junior Marcus Paige, one of the nation’s most highly sought-after point guards, committed to North Carolina in January.