Apr 28, 2013, 3:25 PM EDT
(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)
Baylor’s Isaiah Austin isn’t the only big man to decide on Sunday that another year of college basketball is the best move.
Michigan State’s Adreian Payne will return to East Lansing for his senior season, announcing his decision during a press conference Sunday night in East Lansing. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Payne would return to school Sunday afternoon.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me to make, but I’m excited to be returning to Michigan State for my senior year,” said Payne. “I’ve had a lot of people asking what I was going to do, but I had to take my time to make the right decision.
“I’ve always wanted to play in the NBA, but one more year at MSU is the right decision for me.
Payne averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season for the Spartans, who won 27 games and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. With Payne making the decision to return to school, Tom Izzo’s team becomes one of the early favorites to not just reach the Final Four but win the national title.
According to a report last week from Mike Griffith of mlive.com, Payne was struggling with the decision of whether to go pro or return to school for one more year. Having shown an improved ability to step out and knock down perimeter shots, Payne saw his draft prospects improve during the latter stages of the season.
Being projected to go anywhere from the late-first to early-second round in June’s NBA Draft, Payne sat in a “gray area” of sorts when it comes to his NBA possibilities.
With his decision to return the Spartans become even better in 2013-14, with big man Derrick Nix being the lone departure among the players in coach Izzo’s rotation.
Guards Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Denzel Valentine all return, as will junior forward Branden Dawson. Michigan State also adds forwards Gavin Schilling and Alvin Ellis, two players who will only make this group deeper.
“I’m very excited for next year. We have a chance to have a great season with championship goals,” noted Payne. “Coach Izzo and I had several discussions about an expanded role for me that will help the team become better.
“Coach Izzo also talked about some of the individual goals he has for me, and I’m going to keep working hard to get better. I want to make my final season a special one.”
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