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That sound you heard early Sunday afternoon was Tom Izzo letting out a huge exhale. According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who is the best NBA writer around for my money, Michigan State junior big man Adreian Payne is going to stay in school for his senior season. Payne has elected to play out his eligibility instead of entering June’s NBA Draft.
Payne averaged 10.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 25.6 minutes per game for Michigan State, helping to lead the Spartans to a 27-9 record and Sweet 16 appearance.
Somewhat surprisingly, Payne led the team in free throw percentage, drilling 84.8 percent from the line. There aren’t many, if any 6’10″, 240 pound guys who lead their team at the charity stripe.
Payne held a press conference Sunday night in East Lansing to confirm that he’s staying. Per Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News, Payne’s decision changed multiple times. ”It was going back and forth, I couldn’t even tell you.”
The Spartan coaching staff is a little bit excited he’ll be back. Assistant coach Dane Fife tweeted late Sunday: “House of PAYNE is back and he’s all about a championship!!!! #SpartanDawgs.”
Michigan State could very well be ranked number one overall when preseason polls come out in October. With the return of Payne and sophomore guard Gary Harris, they will return four starters.