While University of Arkansas senior small forward Sonny Weems was pouring in 23 points Friday night in the Red-White, his potential replacement was looking on from courtside.
Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College star Daniel Payne (6-7, 210) – who like Weems was two years ago has been dubbed a preseason junior college national player of the year – took in the contest and liked what he saw.
"I like the fact that they get up and down the court," Payne said. "They like to run and so do I. They also do a lot of pressing, which I love to do. I like to turn defense into offense like they do."
Payne, a former South Bend, Ind., star, averaged 14.4 points and 7.5 rebounds last season while leading his team to a 33-5 record and third place in the National Junior College Association Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.
He hit over 50 percent from the field, 80 percent from the line and nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.
Payne has been tabbed by Sporting News as the top juco player in the land and also been selected a preseason junior college All-American.
"I'm honored by all that, but it's about what you go out and get done on the court the next game, not what you did the last one," Payne said. "I'm not about the individual things anyway. I am about my team and helping it to win."
He certainly got a kick out of watching first-year Razorback head coach John Pelphrey actually playing in the Red-White scrimmage.
"That was interesting," Payne said. "I haven't ever seen anything like that happen before. I loved it. The only thing that I have seen like that was in my freshman year and my freshmen. I love that guy to this day."
Arkansas joins Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M and Wichita State among the schools that are showing interest in Payne.
He has no plans to make a choice in the November 14-21 early signing period and instead will wait until the spring to sign.
"I am just going to weigh my options and take my visits and do my research on the schools," Payne said.
Payne, whose team is No. 3 in the preseason juco national poll, is majoring in Graphic Design and Technology and notes that off-court aspects will factor into his decision.
"Definitely off the court is going to be big to me as well," Payne said. "The graduation rate, if they have my major and how good is that program. That is going to be a key where to where I go."
Coffeyville will scrimmage Southwest Baptist in Bolivar, Mo., on Tuesday before opening its regular season Saturday night against Butler (Kan.) CC.
The Ravens got a chance to test their mettle last week with a scrimmage against the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.
Coffeyville won by 12 points in that matchup with Pelphrey in the stands.
"I feel comfortable about our team this year," Payne said. "That scrimmage showed that we had fight because they came out ready to play and we didn't. They came out at us hard and we were down and came back and ended up winning."
Payne plans to be back at Arkansas on an official visit sometime during the season.
"This is a great place," Payne said. "I really like what I am seeing and hearing."
Bringing The Payne
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