It seems the University of Arkansas basketball program may be a little closer to feeling some Payne than earlier thought.
Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College small forward Daniel Payne (6-7, 210) – The Sporting News' preseason Junior College of the Year - said Monday afternoon that the Razorbacks were his clear No. 1 right now.
Payne - who took an unofficial visit to Arkansas weekend before last - also said that despite earlier plans to sign in the spring period, he might end up doing it in the Nov. 14-21 early signing period instead.
"I think that is certainly a possibility now and something that I am thinking about," Payne said. "I don't know for sure, but I probably make that decision later this week. Arkansas is definitely my number one."
Coffeyville head coach Jay Herkelman has advised his star to take his time in signing.
Payne is being recruited by Arkansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas and Wichita State among others.
"I doubt he signs in the early period because he has not taken any official visits and now that we are playing he won't have the opportunity to do so," Herkelman said. "I know that Arkansas is up there pretty high with him right now, probably his number one and he might go ahead and commit and then take some visits over Christmas break."
Payne started his sophomore season with a bang Saturday night by pouring in 24 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in a 97-70 win over Butler (Kan.) CC.
He was 9-of-11 from the field on the night, hit 4-of-6 3-pointers and both of his free throws in the game.
"We won and I thought we played pretty good, especially for the first game," Payne said. "I thought I did alright but I could have played better. I did shoot it pretty well."
Herkleman said the former South Bend, Indiana prep prospect certainly has a lot of great attributes.
"He plays with a lot of energy and plays hard on both ends of the floor," He can shoot the ball really well, can handle it and play defense and is very active. About the only thing he needs to do is put on some weight."
Payne came into his own during the second semester last season and ended up being on the All-Conference, All-Region and National Junior College Tournament all-star teams.
"He started getting comfortable about halfway through the conference season when we started playing him out on the wing," Herkelman said. "He really started coming on then and went from an unknown to a guy that is now highly recruited and considered one of the best players out there."
Coffeyville returns to action Tuesday night at 8 p.m. when it visits NEO before a four-team jamboree this weekend.
The Red Ravens will play Arkansas Tech's junior varsity squad Friday at 7 p.m. and Pratt on Saturday night at the same time.
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