Memphis v Michigan State

Michigan State forward Adreian Payne to return for senior season (VIDEO)


(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, 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.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.