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Handicapping The Payne Recruitment Is Tough (Updated: Press Conference Friday?)

Late Friday night news came of Adreian Payne canceling his visit to Kansas. That visit was to be the last of his five official visits. Payne took prior visits to Kentucky, Arizona, Michigan State and West Virginia, and somewhere along the way must have found what he wanted in a college destination. Over the weekend, I spoke with his high school coach, Art Winston, who said that on Monday they would sit down and discuss his visits and his final decision.

For those wondering where Payne is going to end up, here a rough attempt at handicapping the race. During his visit to West Virginia, a local newspaper published that Payne had cut  his list down to West Virginia and Kentucky. That rumor was quickly shot down when I spoke to Winston, who said that all schools were still in play. However, most believe those two to lead the pack.

You also have to factor in the canceled visit to Kansas. Whenever you hear that a recruit visits a certain school and then cancels subsequent visits, it is usually a good sign that the prior visit wowed the recruit in such a way that no matter what else he was going to see, it wasn’t going to top that visit. That school of thought is only aided by the way that West Virginia went all out for Payne during his visit, wearing “House of Payne” t-shirts, holding huge poster boards asking him to come to the NBA factory that is West Virginia (you can make your own assessment of that notion in the comments section), and even having their own players silently bring attention to Payne. However, you still have to hold open the option that Payne just wasn’t feeling the love from Kansas’ coaching staff anymore, which caused Terrence Jones to remove them from his list as well.

Kentucky has long been viewed as one of the favorites in this race and I don’t think that has changed much. Aside from the huge ovation he received in West Virginia and the immediate cancellation of the Kansas trip, there is no other evidence to suggest that Kentucky isn’t still in a good position with Payne. Payne’s ultimate goal is reaching the NBA and he has always spoke about that factor being one of the reasons that Kentucky stood out with him. Kentucky’s coaches have also been to see Payne since his visit, which suggests that they still view him as a viable option and top target.

Then you have the other two schools on his list: Arizona and Michigan State. Michigan State is a great example of what makes this race so hard to handicap. While the consensus seemed to be that West Virginia and Kentucky led, I received word from Anthony Wireman at Bluegrass State Basketball who was told that Michigan State’s coaches felt good about their chances of landing Payne.

Adreian Payne hasn’t ever been one for the spotlight off the court and tends to keep his opinions out of the media. Therefore opinions about where he wants to play ball next season must be based on rumors and movements in his recruiting situation. At this point, the smart money still has to be on West Virginia and Kentucky, followed by Michigan State and then Arizona. However, I wouldn’t even be that surprised if one of the latter two schools won out. Even though there are a lot of unknowns, comfort can be found in knowing that the winner should be revealed in near future.

UPDATE: High Major Scoop says that they’ve caught wind of a rumor that Adreian Payne will be holding a press conference this Friday to announce his decision but that they have not heard who the final pick will be.

Other notes:

Doron Lamb‘s visit seemed to go well, in the normal “the visit was great” sort of way. He was able to see two practices, one being the student only practice on Friday. However, Lamb did tell Zag’s blog that he may still visit Arizona (home of former NY Gaucho Book Richardson) and UConn. With his high school season about to start, it doesn’t seem like this recruitment is nearing an end just yet.

– Here’s a rundown from NBEbasketball.com on Angel Nunez, who you might remember as one of the canceled Midnight Madness visitors.

– Also, don’t forget that Wednesday is the date for Terrence Jones’ official visit. We’ll have more about him during Wednesday’s post, before his big arrival in Lexington for the Blue/White scrimmage.

Article written by Dustin Rumbaugh

I enjoy basketball, Kentucky sports and extremely short walks on the beach, followed by a nap. Sorry ladies, I'm taken.