Small-school player still with big-school interest


Jefferson’s Adreian Payne is one of the country’s top players. (Photo by Nick Falzerano)

Dayton Jefferson junior center Adreian Payne is not only one of the top players in Ohio but is one of the nation’s best – and has the scholarship offers to show for it.

Payne is currently uncommited but is he getting any closer to making a decision?


High school stardom at the small-school level doesn’t always translate into recognition from major Division I college programs.

But for Dayton Jefferson cager Adreian Payne, that is not the case.

Coming off a second team All-Ohio selection season with 15.4 points per game and 10 rebounds as a sophomore, Payne is averaging 10 points per game and 10 rebounds for the Division IV Broncos (4-2) this season adjusting to a new role on the team.

“Adreian had never been the main focus of the offense because we had other kids so he could sit back and sneak up on people,” Jefferson head coach Art Winston said. “Now he is that main guy and he is drawing a lot of attention. He is learning how to accept the double and triple-team.”

Rated as the No. 6 power forward in the country by ESPN and an ESPNU Super 60 Player at No. 25, Payne (6-9, 210) has scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Xavier, West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio State, Louisville, Kentucky, Dayton, Indiana and Memphis and is drawing interest from Maryland and Kansas.

He has been on an unofficial visit to West Virginia and was scheduled to visit Tennessee but cancelled the trip and has been tight-lipped throughout the recruiting process.

But he has had plenty of influence from his AAU teammates.

He was part of an AAU National Championshipwith the All-Ohio Red team in 2007 alongside Columbus Northland junior forward Jared Sullinger (Ohio State) and Dayton Thurgood Marshall junior point guard Juwan Staten (Dayton). Cincinnati Princeton junior guard Jordan Sibert (Ohio State), Northland power forward J.D. Weatherspoon (Xavier) and Findlay Liberty-Benton guard Aaron Craft (Tennessee) joined the team in 2008 and the powerhouse squad lit up the AAU circuit again winning another National Championship.

Sullinger, who is ranked as the No. 1 player in the country by ESPNU, Staten and Weatherspoon are Payne’s closest friends, according to Winston.

“They all play AAU basketball together, so quite naturally they tell him to ‘Come to (Dayton) or come to Ohio State or come to Xavier’ but I think when it boils down he is going to go to a place where he feels comfortable playing in a system he can play in,” said Winston.

“That is the mature thing about him, he is not making his decision based on the fact that (his friends) are a close knit group but what is best for him.”

When asked where he thought Payne would fit in best, Winston laughed, “I don’t know if I should answer that.

“He hasn’t really put one team on top or another team on the bottom. He is basically undecided.”

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