IOWA CITY — Iowa’s lack of a true backup point guard undoubtedly will keep Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery holding his breath this fall should senior Bryce Cartwright twist an ankle during Big Ten play.
Last winter Iowa seemed in decent shape entering this season with Cartwright, a junior-college transfer, and original starter Cully Payne, who was sitting out the season after sports hernia surgery. Additionally, Iowa targeted Bellflower, Calif. guard Cezar Guerrero, who visited Iowa in early March.
But that’s when the backup prospects started to unravel. Guerrero picked Oklahoma State over Iowa. In early April, Payne elected to transfer and chose Loyola (Chicago).
Shortly after Payne’s announcement, the Hawkeyes offered Cedar Rapids Washington point guard Wes Washpun a scholarship. During his senior season, Washpun was recruited heavily by then-Missouri State Coach Cuonzo Martin, who left after the season for Tennessee. Martin then offered Washpun a Tennessee scholarship, which Washpun accepted.
“Certainly we liked both of those guys,” Iowa assistant Sherman Dillard said. “I don’t want to go into how equal it was; certainly Cezar had more of a national reputation but Wes was certainly a player that we had a chance … we knew Wes’ game from top to bottom. We had seen him play so many times. As it turned out we didn’t get either one of them so it’s a moot point, quite frankly.”
After Washpun spurned Iowa, fans criticized Iowa coaches for not offering a scholarship before Martin moved to Tennessee.
“I think we always liked Wes’ game,” Dillard said. “Certainly we wouldn’t have went and spent the time to watch him play if we didn’t feel that he was a young man that could have contributed here. What happens with a local young man, we wanted to make sure it was a good fit for Wes. Certainly we have to look at our team and see where our needs are.”
Iowa coaches continued to look for another point guard but ultimately chose to stand pat. Like last year sophomore swing guard Devyn Marble will slide over to the point to give Cartwright breathers. Senior Matt Gatens and freshman Josh Oglesby — Washpun’s teammate at Cedar Rapids Washington — also will bring the ball up the court when needed.
“There’s a point where we thought do we want to go another season with just one point guard, which is the case right now with Bryce, or do we want to kind of shore up that position with another point guard?” Dillard said. “I think Fran got to the point where he got comfortable with Marble backing up Bryce.
“Bryce is going to give us 34 minutes a game and even like Oglesby, we feel Josh can play a little bit of point although we don’t want to take him off what he does best and he’s better off the ball. He’s using screens and moving without the basketball than creating for people. So we decided to go with this lineup the way it is and use Marble to back up Bryce.”
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