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Adreian Payne honored at Wooden Awards with Outreach Award for friendship with Lacey Holsworth


Michigan State senior forward Adreian Payne was honored at the John R. Wooden Awards Gala on Friday night in Los Angeles as Payne was given the first ever Outreach Award for his friendship with 8-year-old cancer patient Lacey Holsworth.

Holsworth sadly lost her life to neuroblastoma on April 9th after first being diagnosed in 2011.

Payne’s friendship with Princess Lacey became an international story this season as the 8-year-old Holsworth attended numerous Michigan State games, participated in Senior Day festivities with Payne and helped the Spartans cut down the nets in Indianapolis after their Big Ten Conference Tournament title. She also meant a lot to the Michigan State team and fanbase and head coach Tom Izzo gave a tearful speech at a candlelight vigil held for Lacey on Michigan State’s campus earlier this week.

The Associated Press was in Los Angeles to capture Payne’s speech upon accepting the Outreach Award:

“She wouldn’t want me to be sad,” Payne said. “It’s hard.”

The crowd stood to applaud Payne, who spoke softly in accepting the award, saying he nearly didn’t travel to Los Angeles after the girl’s death but was encouraged to by her father.

“He told me Lacey would want me to come out,” Payne said. “It’s not just for me, it’s for her. That’s the main reason why I came.”

Payne was also accompanied by Holsworth to the team’s season-ending banquet and traveled with him to Final Four weekend when the senior participated in the college dunk contest.

“I just wanted to keep winning games because I knew she looked forward to it,” Payne said. “Once it was over it just seemed like she had nothing else to look forward to.”

A memorial service for Holsworth is also set for Thursday at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.

“I learned so much, just seeing her fight every day,” Payne said. “It’s really been hard. She taught me to preserve through anything.”

Report: Four-star center reclassifying to 2015; down to three

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An interesting recruiting development hit on Friday as Josh Gershon of reported that four-star center Jayce Johnson is reclassifying to the Class of 2015 and looking to join a program at semester break.

The 7-foot native of California is down to Cal, Colorado and Utah and Johnson is on an official visit to Utah this weekend after transferring to a charter school this week. As Gershon notes, only Cal has a scholarship to offer Johnson this season, but the family is willing to pay a semester at the other programs if it’s the right fit. Johnson would like to redshirt and train with his future college while playing against more mature players.

But if Johnson is persuaded not to redshirt, he could be an intriguing big man off the bench later in the season for a couple of teams looking to make a postseason appearance. As the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson is a talented prospect and he isn’t afraid to score with either hand. With some time to fill out, Johnson can turn into a talented Pac-12 player down the road.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.