Payne excited to make Atlanta his home

After a couple months of waiting, the former MSU forward learned his new destination Thursday when the Atlanta Hawks selected him No. 15 in the NBA Draft.

After a couple months of waiting, Adreian Payne finally found out where his next destination would be.

With the flights, hotel rooms and workouts behind him, the former Michigan State forward was selected by the Atlanta Hawks at No. 15 in the first round of Thursday's NBA draft.

"I'm just so excited that I am able to know where I'm going," Payne said. "I'm going to come into Atlanta and that is going to be my new home."

The 6-foot-10 fell right into the 10 to 20 range that he said was expected, also saying he felt he had left a good impression after working out with Atlanta leading up to the draft.

"When I worked out there, I felt I did great and I felt the coaching staff and everyone, they really liked the type of guy and what I had to offer," Payne said. "I just went out there and just tried to show my game and show what I can do.

"They liked it and they picked me. I'm just excited about it and I can't wait to get there."

Payne said he sees a good fit with the Hawks, which was seconded by Spartans coach Tom Izzo and repeated by Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry after the draft.

"It's great where AP went," Izzo said in a teleconference. "I think Atlanta is a perfect organization with the fact that they have a San Antonio kind of coach from that system."

Ferry praised Izzo and the program at Michigan State, saying guys from MSU are the type of guys they like. Specifically, he said he likes that Payne brings shooting and athleticism to the Hawks.

"We want to play with pace and space," Ferry said. "Adreian is someone who can do both, being able to run the court and compete on both ends, along with being able to shoot the basketball.

"He fits into the way we want to play."

The senior became the highest draft pick for the Spartans since Jason Richardson went No. 5 to the Golden State Warriors in 2001 after returning for his senior year. Ferry said the fact Payne is more seasoned than other players in the draft by spending four years in college can be a positive.

"He has gotten the four years of college," Ferry said. "With where we were drafting, that may be a good thing. Maybe he was undervalued by being older.

"Sometimes, we overvalue the younger guys and undervalue the guys that have been in college for four years. Hopefully, this is one of those instances."

While the night was a celebration for Payne, Michigan State and Atlanta, he paid tribute to Lacey Holsworth, who died in April, with his suit on draft night as her parents were seated at his table in the green room.

"I wanted to do something in her memory, something that would mean something to me and something that would stick out and was different and something I knew that she would really like – this was it," he said of his pink and blue suit that matches a bracelet he wears in her honor. "This was something I could do help bring more awareness to her cancer and to cancer really for anybody, really just to be able to help her and help kids and people that have cancer and bring more awareness and her parents really liked it and enjoyed it. We are really close and I just wanted to help the community and helped kids out.

"I knew this would be a big night, a big night for me and I just wanted to be able to make a statement."

With the draft process complete, Payne now will head to the NBA summer league in Las Vegas in the coming weeks. He said his focus will be on his conditioning as he gets to work.

"That's the main thing and my strength, just trying to get everything back and get in the best shape and as strong as I possibly can so I can come out and do the best I can and help the team," he said.

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