Counting down MSU’s top 50 basketball players all-time: No. 19 – Adreian Payne

This is the 32nd in a 50-day summer series, counting down the top players in Michigan State basketball history, as I see them. The criteria is impact and performance at MSU only, professional career irrelevant. Have your own opinion? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

No. 19 – Adreian Payne
Power forward / center, 2010-14, Dayton, Ohio

The Skinny: By the end of his career, the 6-foot-10, 245-pound Payne was the most versatile imposing big man ever to play at MSU. Once an enigmatic talent, Payne put it together midway through his junior season. As a senior, he averaged 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and hit 44 3-pointers (at 42 percent) in 28 games.

Adreian Payne scored 41 points against Delaware in this year’s NCAA tournament, breaking an MSU postseason record previously held by Greg Kelser, with 34 points against Notre Dame in 1979. (LSJ file)

Payne’s ceiling was even higher. He dominated an oversized Texas club in December, scoring 33 points on 10 of 13 shooting, almost all of it guarded one-on-one work in the post. And, in the first game of the NCAA tournament, he set an MSU postseason record with 41 points against Delaware, owning the paint, while hitting 4 of 5 3-pointers and all 17 free throws. It was the most points by any MSU player in 20 years.

Twice selected second-team All-Big Ten, Payne finished with program-best career 141 blocks and is one of nine MSU players with more than 1,200 points and 700 rebounds.

Why he’s No. 19: Payne’s numbers are somewhat lessened by his era — not the modern era, the elite team era. For example, he scored four points at Indiana as a senior but played beautifully, not forcing his offense against extra attention and shutting down NBA projected lottery pick Noah Vonleh, while MSU’s other stars took care of the points. In many eras of MSU basketball, Payne would have averaged more than 20 points per game last season and been called upon for bigger stats earlier in his career.

Like many great post players, Payne could raise his game in big moments and against key matchups — especially bulky, low-to-the-ground bigs. As sophomore, his 15 points against All-American Jared Sullinger were instrumental in winning at Ohio State. A year later, he was MSU’s best player in the NCAA tournament, tallying 14 points and 10 rebounds against both Memphis and Duke.

But it’s his senior year — which nearly didn’t happen — that puts him on this list at all, even with a chunk of games missed to a foot injury. If Payne is selected in the first round of next week’s NBA draft, as expected, his program impact will have extra reach, giving MSU a boost in recruiting.

Previously …
No. 20: Drew Neitzel
No. 21: Lindsay Hairston
No. 22: Maurice Ager
No. 23: Paul Davis
No. 24: Andre Hutson
No. 25: Lee Lafayette
No. 26: Gary Harris
No. 27: Darryl Johnson
No. 28: Jack Quiggle
No. 29: Jason Richardson
No. 30: Stan Washington
No. 31: Antonio Smith
No. 32: Eric Snow
No. 33: Chet Aubuchon
No. 34: Mike Peplowski
No. 35: Keith Appling
No. 36: Shannon Brown
No. 37: Kirk Manns
No. 38: Goran Suton
No. 39: Alan Anderson
No. 40: Branden Dawson
No. 41: Bill Kilgore
No. 42: Pete Gent
No. 43: Al Ferrari
No. 44: Ken Redfield
No. 45: Chris Hill
No. 46: Raymar Morgan
No. 47: Kevin Smith
No. 48: Kevin Willis
No. 49: Matt Steigenga
No. 50: Marcus Taylor

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9 Responses to Counting down MSU’s top 50 basketball players all-time: No. 19 – Adreian Payne

  1. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Nice write up Graham , will Coach Izzo travel to NY to be with AP and Harris in the Green room?

  2. avatar Mountain Sparty says:

    I’ve been a Spartan fan a long long time and I can’t think of 18 players better than AP. I’ll wait and see.

  3. avatar Faygo says:

    Looking forward to seeing where a player from my eraat MSU, Terry Furlow, lands. Great talent, played pool with him at The Union. He was something, then gone too soon.

    • avatar msu76 says:

      Didn’t he beat up Jeff Tropf in an elevator?

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      He came back to the IM to shoot some hoops in 78 I let him in the door without an id, he was wearing a tee shirt that said poor man wanna be rich rich man wanna be king and a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything

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