It doesn't exactly take a sharply trained basketball mind to figure out that Adreian Payne has some gifts that others just don't. All one has to do is watch the 6-foot-9 forward make a couple of trips up and down the floor and watch the way he gobbles up space with long and effortless strides. Mix in supreme quickness and leaping ability for a young man his size and it's pretty easy to tag the star junior from Dayton Jefferson as a high level hoops prospect.
Then again, despite his incredible physical gifts, there are times where you couldn't blame somebody for wondering exactly what all the hype is about. This spring, a more focused Payne has been looking to be much more consistent in his performance.
"My coach has always been telling me to be more aggressive," said Payne. "Now that I'm getting older I see that. It starts with being more physical, looking for my shot and making sure that I'm blocking more shots."
And when he wants to, Payne can do all of those things with ease. However, he readily admits that his greatest attribute is still his athleticism.
"My athleticism was a gift so I try to use that when I can," said Payne. "As I work on my game, the skill will come along with it. I think that I can run the floor and block shots. I need to get stronger and work on my ball handling and decision making."
Developing as one of the top 20, maybe even top 10, prospects in the class of 2010, Payne is a different kind of kid. Far from being wrapped up in his recruitment he says that he watches hardly any college basketball – in fact he barely watches any television – and he's really yet to sit down and think about things too closely.
As for his relationship with the Buckeyes, Payne says that Ohio State really hasn't been recruiting him as aggressively as people might think. He didn't offer up any reasons why either.
"They really haven't been calling me or recruiting me as much right now," Payne told Buckeyesports.com of Ohio State. "It's been kind of quiet with them compared to what people think it is."
Beneath his shy and laid back exterior, there's a pretty funny and sharp kid. However, breaking past that exterior isn't easy and because of that most insiders have speculated that Payne won't be straying far from home. It's something the young big man has already heard quite a bit.
"My community would like me to stay home," said Payne. "Everywhere I go I hear people telling me that I should stay in Dayton. I let them talk, but I don't really focus on it. I'm open to go anywhere."
The bottom line, is that at this point Payne is coming to a point where he'll have start transferring some of his newfound aggression on the floor into attacking the recruiting process. When he does focus in on a decision, he'll never rush it and it sounds like a sense of community created from the top will be important to him.
"I'm just going to take my time with things and go where I feel most comfortable," finished Payne. "The coaches and the players and the environment created by the head coach will be important."
*Author's note- This story was originally to be published on 4.24.09. However a technical problem prevented it from ever posting and the issue was just noticed yesterday. Buckeyesports.com will check in with Payne again in the near future to see how or if his recruitment has changed now that the coaching carousel (head and assistant coaches) has come to a halt.