Nutt likes what Payne brings to Redhawks' table

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Southeast Missouri State men's basketball coach Dickey Nutt was finally able to talk about his latest early signee after all the paperwork had been approved.

Nutt is excited about landing one of the better guards in the St. Louis area.

Southeast on Wednesday officially announced the signing of Martavian Payne, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior combo guard at Madison Prep High School.

Payne averaged 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game as a first-team all-state junior last year for Imagine Prep in St. Louis, which has since closed. He averaged 20.4 points and made 50 3-pointers as a sophomore.

Payne missed several weeks of last season with a knee injury but returned in time to help Imagine Prep earn its first state final four berth. The Bears beat Sikeston in the Class 4 quarterfinals.

"We're very excited about signing Martavian. He's got a lot of talent," Nutt said. "He brings us that athlete we're looking for. He's got that big, strong body. He can really shoot the ball with range and he can get to the basket. He can jump. He can do a lot of things."

Tony Irons, Payne's high school coach, said Payne also had received interest from the likes of Wichita State and Missouri State.

Nutt said Payne has academic issues that put his Division I eligibility for next season in question but the coach said he is hopeful Payne will qualify academically.

"He's got some work to do but we're encouraged by visiting with his counselor, his coaches," Nutt said. "We feel like with some hard work that he'll be able to play for us next year."

Nutt said signing Payne is important for Southeast's future recruiting as the Redhawks try to make inroads in the St. Louis area.

"Getting into a basketball hotbed like St. Louis is very important to us," Nutt said. "To be able to go into St. Louis and sign what we feel like is one of the top guards there is big for us."

Payne joins 6-5 wing Darrian Gray from Lake Land (Ill.) Community College as Southeast's early signees for its 2013 recruiting class. Gray's signing was announced last week.

Gray averaged nine points and five rebounds at Lake Land last year. He spent his freshman season at Navarro (Texas) Junior College, averaging six points and three rebounds.

Gray has no more eligibility remaining at Lake Land, where he is finishing up his school work this semester. He will transfer to Southeast for the second semester and will be able to practice with the Redhawks beginning Dec. 15 although he won't be eligible until next season.

Gray earned all-region honors at Southwind High School in Memphis, Tenn., where he averaged 24 points and six rebounds as a senior.

Southeast still has at least two more available scholarships for next season

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