Adreian Payne: The Next Big Thing at Michigan State

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State has been a hotbed for NBA talent since Tom Izzo has been the head man in East Lansing. Adreian Payne may be the next guy to prove his talent and make the jump from college to the professional ranks with ease.

A year ago, Payne was thought of by many as a bust. He was the guy that was supposed to dominate college with his size and athleticism, but never lived up to the hype.

This season, Payne is finally the guy that many though he would be going into college. He is long, lanky and has put on weight that has seemingly elevated his game to the next level. In his freshman season, he averaged just 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds. His sophomore year, he averaged 7.0 points and 4.2 rebounds.

This year, in an increased role with the team, he is averaging 9.5 points and 6.8 rebounds. Those numbers may not seem too impressive, but in his last nine games, he has averaged 12.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and has scored in double-digits seven times while playing more than 30 minutes four times.

There is no doubt that Payne may be as NBA-ready as any player on the Spartans, but he needs to finish the season strong and come back for his senior season if he wants to maximize his potential.

He may be nearly ready for the league, but if he stays one more season with the Spartans, he could easily be a lottery pick. As the most athletic big man to ever grace the court at Michigan State, Payne looks to be yet another great at the college that he calls home.

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