Cedar Rapids native Wes Washpun will help Northern Iowa stagger its depth at guard in the future.
Washpun, who will transfer from Tennessee to Northern Iowa this summer, joins a team stacked with talent fresh from a 20-win season. The Panthers return every player but Johnny Moran, who led UNI in minutes but was fifth in points scored per game (7.5).
Washpun, a 6-foot-1 point guard, must red-shirt next season after playing in 17 games for the Volunteers. The former Cedar Rapids Washington standout scored 16 points, grabbed 22 rebounds and dished 23 assists last season.
Three of UNI’s top four scorers will be seniors next season, including guards Anthony James and Marc Sonnen. Washpun will compete for playing time with Deon Mitchell, former Solon player Matt Morrison and others in 2013-14.
UNI has won 20 games four consecutive seasons and also has earned a postseason bid four straight years. Northern Iowa was a seventh seed in the National Invitation Tournament and beat St. Joseph’s 67-65 in the opener before falling 65-63 in the final seconds to Drexel. Both games were played in Philadelphia.
Northern Iowa swept its in-state rivals, beating Iowa State 69-62 and Iowa 80-60 early in the season. UNI also beat Missouri Valley Conference rival Drake by 15 and 14 points, respectively.
UNI likely enters the 2012-13 preseason as the top challenger to Creighton. League champion Wichita State loses its top five scorers from last season, while Creighton returns nine of its top 10.
Iowa Barnstormers Director Jamie Johnson said Washpun also had interest from Nebraska, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, South Dakota State and Tennessee Tech. Washpun played AAU basketball for the Barnstormers.
As a high school senior, Washpun averaged 18 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.7 steals a game for Washington. He and high school teammate, current Iowa guard Josh Oglesby, led the Warriors to a Class 4A state quarterfinal berth in 2011. Washpun picked Tennessee over scholarship offers from Iowa and Missouri State.
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