Prime Time League a family affair for Eric and Wes Washpun

BY KYLE MANN | JULY 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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When the Panthers of Northern Iowa agreed to return to the Prime Time League this summer, those around the league were eager to bring in the extra batch of players. Nobody could’ve predicted how the rosters would shape up, but when the draft was over, perhaps no one was more excited than Eric and Wes Washpun.

Wes, a 6-1 point guard for the Panthers playing his first season in Prime Time, was coach Kevin Lehman’s third-round selection. Not long after, Lehman selected Eric Washpun to join his younger cousin in the backcourt.

“I’ve had Eric before, and Wes’ dad played in Prime Time probably about 20 years ago,” Lehman said. “I’ve always liked Eric’s maturity level, and I wanted to coach Wes because I’ve seen him play and wanted to get a chance to coach him.”

Lehman was already familiar with the Washpuns — he knew Eric’s father as a player at City High in the early 1990s and Wes’s father as a Prime Time participant. While Eric’s family stayed in the City High area, Wes played high-school ball at Cedar Rapids Washington, and the two remained as close as they grew up.

“We basically grew up together,” Eric said. “We have a big family, so at every family function, we hung out a lot.”

When it comes to playing basketball, however, the cousins were never able to play as much as some may think.

“I wouldn’t say we played together as often as we should,” Eric said. “He’s a little younger, so we had different crowds.”

“Probably about two or three times a month,” Wes recalled. “When I would go down to Iowa City, and we’d go play at the rec or something.”

That’s why this summer’s Prime Time season has been such an interesting experience for the Washpuns. Although the family is close with a growing history of producing talented basketball players, Wes and Eric are just now finally getting a chance to play together on a large stage.

The cousins have both played fairly well despite their team’s 1-3 record and enjoy their time together.

“It’s been nice; he’s always a great guy to have on your team,” Wes said. “He knows my game, and I know his game, so it’s nice to be able to find each other and feed off each other’s energy.”

Eric averaged 10 points per game in the regular season, along with 2 assists and 3 rebounds per game, as well as shooting 39 percent from behind the arc. The elder Washpun has been a net positive for Lehman’s team, but he is mostly impressed with how his younger cousin has performed.

“He’s a great player,” Eric said. “He’s very athletic and long. He knows I can shoot the ball and he’s good at finding me, and he loves to drive to the hoop.”

With Wes’s driving ability, paired his being one of the more remarkable leapers in the league, he’s been able to get to the hoop and finish at a very impressive clip for a 6-1 guard. He averaged 15 points per game and shot an astounding 65 percent from the paint, to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game.

Wes was a talented player in the metro area in high school, and after a collegiate journey that took him to Tennessee before transferring to UNI, watch for the explosive guard to break out in his junior campaign in 2014-15.

“He’s somebody I look up to,” Eric said. “I’m very proud of him. The whole family is.”

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