Quinten Payne is a 6'-4" combo guard from St. Charles North High School. He is athletic, versatile and plays within a team concept. He is the younger brother of Cully Payne, who was a top recruit in Illinois a few years back. The younger Payne has several scholarship offers, and the Illini coaching staff has been monitoring his progress.
"Coach (Bruce) Weber called my high school coach a lot because they haven't been able to call me. During the season he called him a lot. They came out to watch one of my open gyms and have stayed in contact with my coaches."
Illini assistant Jay Price came to his open gym. The Illini staff has provided Payne's high school coach with their evaluation of his game.
"They like long and athletic guys, and that is what I am. They can see me at the one or the two. They like the idea of bringing in a combo guard who can play both positions. They like how versatile I am."
Payne likes the University of Illinois.
"Some of my family has gone there, so I know it is a great educational school. They have been really successful throughout coach Weber's time there. It is always sold out, they have great fans, and the players they recruit are successful guys. I think they do it the right way."
The Illini's system is also one Payne enjoys watching. He feels his skills are a good fit.
"I love how they get up and down the floor. They push the ball and are real athletic with it. I like their motion because they get a lot of guys open on screens. It is free where players can cut off it, and there are a lot of reads, and I like that."
Illinois is not the only school showing the rising junior interest. He has already received multiple offers.
"Stanford, Davidson, Western Michigan, USC, and Loyola."
There are several other schools in the mix including Georgia Tech, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and most of the Big 10. Payne knows what he is looking for in a school.
"My biggest thing is having a great relationship with the coach, like my brother and sister have with their coaches. Like if I wasn't a basketball player, the coach would still care about me.
I want to be the coaching staff's guy. I don't want to be just another guy they are recruiting. You must have a relationship with the coach and team like family. I want to play for a team that everybody is in it to win.
Another thing is a school that has a supportive fan base. I want a really good educational school where Business and Finance are really high."
Payne will wait until next spring or summer to make his collegiate decision. He had offers during his freshman year but learned a lot from his brother's recruitment.
"I learned not to commit at a young age because that closes so many doors. The biggest thing is, will the coach still be there, and will they have guys at your position?"
Payne averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists per game as a sophomore. He was put in a difficult role playing a lot of point guard, but in the end it will help him.
"We had several rough patches last year. Several of our guys graduated last year, but we have several guys that played well for the sophomore team coming up. We will be pretty young this year. I think with those younger guys coming up, we will be better this year than we were last year.
I played pretty well. I had to play a lot of point guard, when I am more of a combo guard. I am better at scoring off the two. It was a big learning experience for me. I was always talking to my brother about how to play the point guard. It was a good learning experience for me as a player."
Payne describes his strengths as a player.
"I am a combo guard that gets my teammates involved a lot. I am a creator and scorer. I am long and athletic, so I can rebound, block shots and get steals. I am a versatile player."
He plays with Joy of the Game 16 and Under AAU team. It has been a solid spring for him as an individual and the team as a whole.
"It has been great. We are good. We have 6'-8" big man Andrew McAuliffe. Other than him, for the national level we are a little undersized. We are a scrappy team that plays hard and picks up full court.
It is not one-on-one basketball at all. It is all about getting everyone involved and making calls. I think I have played pretty well. Our coach has been getting good reviews this spring. Right after high school season, I did a lot of skill development stuff. I have grown a lot as a player."
He must be doing something right because he was invited to the most prestigious underclassmen event in the country in the Nike Elite 100. The event took place in St. Louis during June. It was a wonderful experience for Payne.
"It was great! I had never been there before, so I didn't know what I was coming into. I was excited to go there. Most of the players were excited about the gear; they gave us some awesome stuff.
But my biggest thing was playing against the best guys in the country. That is what I wanted to grow on. When you are playing around your town, you play against one or two Division 1 players. There you are playing against 100 Division 1 guys.
Every game I had to gear up to battle every second. It was a huge growing experience, and I am taking that over to high school. I came back to my high school team, and I was amazed at how easy it seemed.
I thought it was great to play against those top players. I felt I played well, and it was a great learning experience. People I have talked to thought I played well."
Payne is a prospect who will continue to grow as a player and get better over his final two years of high school. He is someone colleges across the nation will be tracking in July and beyond.