Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo continue to do a great job recruiting in Ohio and landed another top prospect in Adreian Payne (Dayton, Ohio/Jefferson Township). Payne, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward, has as much of an upside as anyone in the front court in his class. Payne, ranked No. 23 in the ESPNU 100 and the No. 7 power forward, is an extremely talented post player who can play either the high post or low post and has demonstrated enough skill and athletic ability to play some on the perimeter in the future, which will probably be his position if he makes it to the NBA.
His skill set is not seen very often in high school or on the summer circuit. Most players you can see their potential and know what you're getting, but Payne has so much untapped potential that it will be fun to watch his development. The only player in the 2010 class who might have more potential is Perry Jones, who's ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 100 and is the top power forward. But make no mistake, Payne has all the tools to make it to the professional level.
Still, there is plenty of truth in the saying that potential is only worth something if you reach it. What separates Payne him from his peers are his physical gifts and skill set. A former high school sprinter with a 7-foot-2-inch wing span, Payne possesses tremendous length, speed and extraordinary quick-leaping ability. His body and game reminds me of former North Carolina great Sam Perkins. Payne just glides down the floor in transition and can finish above the rim, or over or around defenders. Although Payne's offensive game needs polishing, he doesn't get the enough credit for what he does now on the offensive end, which is make a jumper out to the 3-point line or use his sweet jump hook in the low post. His defensive presence is something that coaches marvel over. He could be a multiple position defender for the Spartans because of his length and great lateral foot speed. Payne can also rebound a shot out of his area, or start a fast break with his shot blocking ability. That really is one aspect of his game that he excels in. He has the ability to block shots on his man or coming from the weakside. His great length and timing can change or block most everyone's attempt.