The 6-7, 205-pound senior forward at Winton Woods High School was on the Auburn campus to check out Coach Jeff Lebo's basketball program and he gave the trip a big thumbs up.
"The visit was better than I expected it to be and I was was expecting a lot because I had been to the campus earlier this fall for a couple of hours with my AAU coaches on an unofficial visit," he tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.
"The campus is really nice," he said. "I had a chance to see a lot more of the campus than I did on my first visit and it seems like a lot of the buildings are new."
A really new building that got his attention is the Auburn Arena project, which will be the new home for the basketball team starting with the 2010-2011 season.
In addition to being custom-designed for Auburn basketball games, it will have a practice facility built into the south side of the complex that includes luxury dressing rooms, weight rooms, team meeting rooms plus offices for the coaches and staff.
A few steps away from the arena is the recently opened dorm complex where the basketball players live and on the north side of the arena is an area where they can eat includes a variety of restaurants.
"The new arena really impressed me," Payne said. "It is state of the art. I have been to the Value City Arena at Ohio State that is supposed to be as good as the new NBA arenas and it is really nice, but I?think Auburn's new arena is going to blow it away."
Payne, who averaged 16 points and seven rebounds per game as a junior, said he will likely make his decision on a college in time to sign in the early period in November. He noted that Auburn and VCU are his favorites and has taken official visits to both. He added that he isn't in a rush to make a decision, but said he is strongly considering the Tigers as well as VCU.
Payne brought his parents on the official visit this past week and noted they both enjoyed the trip. "My mother was really impressed with the school spirit," he said.
The forward said he liked how the whole campus and city were into the game day atmosphere as they watched Auburn take on Kentucky in football.
Another plus on the visit was getting to meet the Auburn players. He hung out with Frankie Sullivan, Andre Malone, Lucas Hargrove and Kenny Gabriel and liked them a lot. "Those guys seem to have a real good bond," he said. "They are like brothers."
Another highlight of the trip was watching Lebo and his staff run the first two full squad practices of the preseason. "I like how had they practiced,"?he said. "They got after it for the entire two hours or however long it was. That is the way I like to play."
Payne, a starter in high school since his freshman year, averaged 16 points and seven rebounds as a junior. In addition to VCU and Auburn, Payne said he has scholarship offers from Oklahoma State, Dayton, St. Joe's, Penn State, Western Kentucky, Akron and others.