Some things come later rather than sooner. This was the case for Michigan State’s Adreian Payne. A consensus top-20 recruit coming out of high school, he had all of the accolades you’d expect out of a player of his caliber. Three AAU National Championships with All-Ohio Red. A state title his senior year at Dayton Jefferson. Ohio D-4 Player of the Year. Oh, he also had crazy NBA potential. Still, AP found himself playing less than 10 minutes per game as a freshman. Now, he finds himself less than a month away from being a first round pick in the NBA Draft.
Progressing consistently throughout his collegiate career, Payne saw himself earn the PT he received. He saw his burn double in between his freshman and sophomore years. As a junior, he was named the Big Ten’s Most Improved Player by dropping 10 and 8 each night at an incredibly efficient rate. Payne shot 55 percent from the field, 38 percent from the land of three, and 85 percent from the line. Then as a senior, he took his game to a new level.
Accepting a role as the team’s go-to guy, AP shined. He averaged 16 and 7, but his impact on the game went way deeper than the box score. He provided the Spartans with a viable threat on the block who could command a double team, yet also had the skill to stretch the D with his stroke from deep. He hung 33 and 9 on Texas early in the year and while he suffered various injuries that hindered him throughout the middle of the year, he bounced back for a Michigan State Elite Eight run in the tourney that included a 41 point game against Delaware.
We checked out Payne in Chicago training with Ryan Thompson and Tim Anderson, and were immediately taken back by his sheer size. This dude is the epitome of a physical specimen, standing 6-10 with a 7-4 wingspan. He has the size of a center with the game of a power forward. He showed the ability to shoot the ball from the NBA three-point line, but also has the skill to put it on the deck and raise up off the bounce from mid-range. Not just a jump-shooter, Adreian is a legit athlete who is constantly developing as a threat to give you buckets with his back to the basket.
On the defensive end of the court, there is just as much promise. He is freaky long and gets off of the ground well, giving him the potential to be more of a shot-blocking presence than his numbers in East Lansing reflected. Additionally, he moves exceptionally well for a 240-pound guy, showing a ton of potential getting out to defend the pick and roll.
AP has the talent and upside to potentially crack the top 10, but has workouts schedule for teams ranging to the 20s. If his body of work in college is indicative of what the future holds, whatever team that selects Payne will be getting a cat whose best basketball is certainly ahead of him.