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When a Ball State transfer realized just ‘how big’ the IU men’s basketball program is

Payton Sparks playing at new school in same state

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana University men’s basketball roster is full of new faces this season.

One of those new faces played college basketball in Indiana last year but at a different school.

Forward Payton Sparks transferred to IU in March after playing the last two seasons at Ball State University.

“It’s amazing,” Sparks told News 8. “I loved every moment I was at Ball State. Coming to a bigger stage than Indiana, I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m just thankful to be here.”

Sparks said he’s adjusting to life as a member of the IU men’s basketball team when going around Bloomington.

“Everybody knows everywhere I’m going,” Sparks said. “Everybody’s asking me about the program, everything like that. I didn’t know how big it was until I stepped foot” here.

Sparks was impressive during his time in Muncie. He averaged 13.4 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game as a Cardinal.

The Indiana native of the city of Winchester was named to the All-MAC Second Team this past season. Sparks collected multiple honors during his tenure at Ball State including being named MAC Freshman of the Year and All-MAC Third Team member during the 2021-22 season.

He’ll be hoping for similar success this season.

“We got a great team,” Sparks said. “Everybody has different personalities. They bring a lot to the table.”

Sparks said the biggest thing he learned during his time at Ball State was to be thankful for everything.

The annual IU Hoosier Hysteria is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Both the men’s and women’s programs will be introduced at the start of the event. Both head coaches, Mike Woodson and Teri Moren, will then address the crowd before performances by the IU cheerleaders and the RedSteppers dancers. The basketball players will then participate in skills competitions.

After the event, the Hoosiers men’s team will get ready to host its first exhibition game of the season against UIndy on Oct. 29.