Throughout his four years with the Spartans, especially in the last three, Payne was a huge part of the team's success. The Dayton, Ohio, native played in 138 games, starting in 94 of them. He recorded a grand total of 1,232 points, 736 rebounds, 85 assists. Payne will bring solid all-around shooting to the Hawks. Not only did he make most of his field goal attempts, but he was very efficient at the foul line with a career 75.5 free throw percentage at Michigan State.
In addition, he will provide help on with his 6'10" frame that enabled him to block 141 shots in college. His quickness combined with his height should result in him becoming a reliable rebounder. While his tall stature would appear helpful, his defensive awareness seems to be a bit of a concern. If he nails down the mental aspect, he should be able to capitalize on it with his athletic ability. Also, he may need to hit the gym and add some muscle to his somewhat skinny appearance to play some of the leagues biggest and most powerful players. All of this is possible with the right coaching, mentoring, and training.
There are other aspects that make Payne a desirable player. One is his work ethic, which is never questioned. He improved as time went on at Michigan State and did everything he could to make it show. The results prove that. The other aspect is his personality off the court. Many people will remember his friendship with cancer patient Lacey Holsworth, who passed away on April 9th at the age of eight. At the draft, he had her name inside his jacket. Also, he decided not to enter the NBA Draft early in his college career because he wanted to be the first member of his family to graduate from college.
Hawks fan have a talented player to cheer for. His personality will make him one of the most-liked players in the NBA, and his work ethic will be greatly respected as well. If he produces numbers that result in wins, he will become the league's ideal role model.
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