When he joined the MSU basketball program before the 2010-11 season, many were expecting Adreian Payne to be one of the most talented big men ever recruited by Tom Izzo.
But it’s not been until recently that the junior center has found a way to make his mark.
In Sunday’s 75-70 loss to then-No. 7 Indiana, Payne put on an impressive display with 18 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Even more impressive, Payne found his range and hit 3-of-4 shots from beyond the arc, forcing the Hoosiers to scheme their defense to slow him down.
During his weekly press conference, Izzo said the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Payne is displaying plenty of abilities that will serve him well at the next level.
When asked if Payne potentially could play in the NBA someday, Izzo said he never had any doubt of the answer.
“I think he’s been an NBA guy since I got him,” Izzo said. “I always thought this kid had an NBA body and he could do some things. He’s had a pretty good jump shot, you guys see him. He has the best rotation of anybody on our team. …
“So his comfort level and confidence has increased and I hope and think one day he will play (in the NBA).”
In the past six games, Payne is averaging 13 points per contest and has been a consistent source of energy for the Spartans. During the high point of the streak, Payne put up 20 points in the second half alone against Penn State, after being forced to sit out the first half due to a team altercation earlier in the day with sophomore guard/forward Branden Dawson.
On the season, Payne is averaging 9.4 points through 21 games while leading the team on the glass with 6.9 rebounds per game.