"My family and I felt like this decision was best for me moving forward," Payne said in a statement released by Iowa. "I truly appreciate the experience I was offered and wish my teammates nothing but the best in the future."
Payne started all 32 games as a true freshman for the Hawkeyes in 2009-2010, as he was the only starting point guard in the Big Ten that year. He averaged 8.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and a team-best 3.8 assists, scoring in double figures 11 times and he totaled five or more assists 11 times.
"I'm a true point guard," Payne told Pack Pride. "I pride myself on knowing where my teammates are and getting them involved offensively. My biggest thing is creating for other people and making plays for other guys. I like other guys scoring... that's the kind of guard I am."
The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder believed he would have a breakout sophomore season, but it was cut short just five games in as he suffered a season-ending sports hernia injury.
"I've been told that a medical has been granted," said Payne. "A lot of that though will depend on how my new school petitions the NCAA."
Hailing from Schaumburg, Illinois, Payne's journey to Iowa was a long one. He made headlines in June of 2005 when he accepted an offer from Jerry Wainwright to play college ball at DePaul shortly after completing the eighth grade.
However, three years later he opened back up his recruitment and that allowed another school, and coach, to enter the mix: Mark Gottfried and Alabama. Payne decommitted from DePaul on June 2, 2008, and on June 17th he was committed to the Crimson Tide. In between he took an unofficial to Alabama and he participated in the Crimson Tide's Elite Camp, where he earned a scholarship offer. Payne quickly accepted after connecting with Gottfried and his staff.
"They had a great college atmosphere and a great coaching staff," Payne told Scout.com's Evan Daniels. "It's a real good fit for me to come in as a freshman and play. Their personnel is a real good fit for me. Coach Gottfried is a great guy. Their facilities are unbelievable."
He entered his senior season at Schaumburg High School committed to Alabama and completed his high school career by earning a host of awards. Payne was named first team all-state as a senior by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association after averaging 21.6 points, 5.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per contest in 16 games as a senior before missing final 13 games due to injury. A four-time team MVP and three-time team captain, Payne was named conference division Player of the Year as a junior and senior.
He had signed with Alabama in the fall of 2008, but coach Gottfried resigned from the school that spring and Payne was released from his letter of intent by new head coach Anthony Grant on March 30th, 2009. He quickly visited Iowa and committed to the Hawkeyes, and head coach Todd Lickliter, on April 9th.
"I had nothing against coach Grant, but I wanted to play for coach Gottfried," said Payne.
Payne played his first season at Iowa under Lickliter, but the head coach was fired in 2010, with Sienna's Fran McCaffery taking over. Now Payne is back on the market.
"When I came to Iowa it was to play for coach Lickliter and now we have a different coach," he said. "I have nothing against coach McCaffery, but it just wasn't the right fit for me. There are no hard feelings at all though.
"There's a few schools I'm looking at. A lot of the Chicago schools I'm looking at, which are close to home, and I know my guy coach Gottfried took the job at NC State. That is a possibility too. As of now though, I'm really open."
Payne has yet to speak with Gottfried, but hopes to do so in the near future.
"Hopefully I can talk to coach Gottfried about their situation at NC State here real soon," said Payne. "I'd like to find out how strong of an option that could be for me. I think I could be talking to him any day now, but I want to be clear in that I haven't talked to him yet.
"I really like him, that's why I want to see where things are with that. When you trust someone it helps so much, and I got that feeling right away when I started being recruited by Alabama and coach Gottfried. I feel like I can really trust him and his guys."
Payne would likely have three years to play two seasons, unless he is granted a waiver by the NCAA to play right away.
"There is a slim chance I could play for my new school next season," he stated. "Because I missed all of this year they may try and petition the NCAA for me to play right away. There is definitely a chance I could play right away so we'll see."
According to his release, Payne cannot transfer to a Big Ten Conference school or another Division I program in the state of Iowa. Those are the only restrictions placed on his transfer by the Hawkeyes.