Adreian Payne had two big games this week as Michigan State defeated North Florida and Texas. His performances are why Payne has been named NetScouts Basketball’s National Player of the Week for games through December 22, 2013.
The 6-foot-10 senior began the week with 19 points (7-of-11 FG), seven rebounds, and three steals in a 78-48 win over North Florida. He had an even bigger showing in a 92-78 victory over Texas. Payne finished with 33 points (10-of-13 FG) and nine rebounds in a game where Michigan State trailed at halftime.
“This is probably Adreian Payne’s best game of his life and definitely of his Michigan State career,” Spartans head coach Tom Izzo told the Associated Press after the game. “We went to him just about every time and he delivered almost every time, with the way he shot from the field, from the 3-point line, from the free throw line, getting nine boards. He did a heck of a job.”
Payne was a potential first round pick last season, but returned to Michigan State for his senior year. He already showed tremendous athletic ability, great hands, and a soft touch around the rim. So far, Payne hasn’t disappointed, as he’s averaging 18.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
The biggest addition to Payne’s arsenal has been his three-point jumper. He showed potential as a 38 percent shooter from behind the arc last season, but only attempted 42 shots. This year, Payne is shooting 46 percent from three-point range and has already taken 35 three’s in 11 games. Payne has become a true stretch four with an outside shot to compliment his low post game.
What has hurt his draft stock is a reduced lung capacity that affects his stamina and conditioning; however, it hasn’t been a huge concern this season as Payne is averaging 29.2 minutes per game. His age is also rare in today’s era of one-and-done freshmen. The senior still remains a 2014 NBA Draft mid-first rounder with his athleticism and offensive versatility.
Although the freshmen have received most of the hype this season, Payne has shown that he deserves just as much attention. The senior has been phenomenal this year and showcased his talent with a great showing this past week.
Cameron Schott is a Correspondent for NetScouts Basketball.