BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | JUNE 16, 2009 7:11 AM
The Prime Time League got off to a fast start on Monday in North Liberty as two incoming Iowa freshmen took to the pace quickly inside the new gym of the North Liberty Community Center.
Cully Payne of Schaumburg, Ill., and Eric May of Dubuque were pitted against each other for most of the game in their first competitive action since signing their letters of intent with the Hawkeyes.
Payne, whose Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing team took a 89-74 win, was upbeat about the game as well as his newfound home in Iowa.
“It was a good win,” he said. “I’ve been up here for two weeks, and I really like it.”
The two Hawkeyes-to-be guarded each other for most of the game, but it was May who won the individual battle, pouring in 20 points, 12 of those after halftime for Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry’s.
( Daily Iowan video feature )
Even with the competition, the two seem to be readily anticipating the upcoming season together.
“Me and Eric have been together for the past two weeks, so we’ve kind of developed a friendship,” Payne said. “We’re going to be good.”
Payne managed the game well, controlling the ball and setting up the offense each time down as well as handling constant pressure from the defense which he easily broke down on his way to the hoop, on the way to a 12-point, three-assist performance.
Neither of the young additions to Iowa seemed fazed by the competition; each roster was filled with current and former college players, some of whom are stars in their own right. May noticed the difference right away, not that it changed the way he played.
“Speed. It’s a lot quicker,” May said. “Everybody is a good player on the court. There are no bad players out here.”
The speed may have been a factor early in the game for May, but once the tempo became more natural, he really turned it on en route to the huge second half he had, highlighted by a dunk off of a Payne turnover.
“I got into the flow of the game a little more, but I also haven’t played in a couple days,” May said. “So it was nice to get out here and get the dust off.”
If there was any dust, it was gone quickly. Monday night’s performances from both May and Payne made the losses from the Hawkeyes’ tumultuous spring a little easier to swallow.
Other Hawkeyes joining the new guys on the court were redshirt freshman-to-be John Lickliter, who played with May for Gatens/McCurry’s, and sophomore-to-be Aaron Fuller and senior-to-be Devan Bawinkel joined Payne on Imprinted/Goodfellow.
Bawinkel was quiet most of the night, scoring only three points on a first-half 3-pointer, and Fuller finished the game with eight points on 4-for-9 shooting for Imprinted/Goodfellow in the win.
Lickliter went 0-for-2 from the field with one assist in the loss.
With one game under their belts, the two young Hawkeyes are on their way to being ready to compete with the best the Big Ten has to offer.