Adreian Payne Watch: Down to the Wire

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA draft early entry deadline less than 80 hours away, Adreian Payne is still mulling his options.

In the week that's passed since Gary Harris announced he was extending his college career, we've had zero news about what direction Adreian Payne is leaning. Today, we finally got a couple glimpses of where things stand. They didn't do a lot to clarify the situation.

First, Jack Ebling ran into Payne out on the town and picked his brain:

"I asked Adreian how he was coming with the process,'' Ebling said. "He had a lot on his mind, it's a tough decision. He said he didn't know what he was going to do, and he said that he wanted to get it over with.

"I asked if it would go up to the deadline, and he said he didn't want that. He wants to decide, he just doesn't know what to decide.''

. . .

"I think it's 50-50 right now,'' Ebling said. "If he wanted to go, things aren't going to get any better in the final week. He is what he is.

Later, we got a few comments from Tom Izzo:

"We've put together as much information as we can, and we've tried to help him as much as we can,'' Izzo said on Thursday afternoon. "It's a tough decision, and in the next two or three days he will need to make that decision.

"I'm hoping the best for Adreian. I hope he does what's best for him, and we'll support him either way.''

Payne is obviously seriously considering declaring for the draft, as well he should. If you've got a shot at guaranteed NBA contract--and Payne is projected as a possible first round pick--you have to give it a hard look. Given the big strides Payne made this past season with condition and developing his offensive game (becoming a legitimate three-point threat during the second half of the season), he's clearly got the ability to play at the next level.

To me, it feels like the risk of going--falling out of the first round and bouncing around the NBDL or Europe for a few years--is higher than the risk of staying--mainly incurring a major injury. Meanwhile, he'd get the chance to be the primary interior scoring option for a national title contender if he stays for his senior year, potentially elevating his NBA stock further. The emphasis Payne has placed on his academic work could push him toward staying, as well.

It's possible, however, that my viewpoint is biased. For what it's worth, I'd guess he's 60/40 to stay right now.

Payne has until 11:59 P.M. on Sunday to declare for the draft. I'd bet we'll find out his decision is a little sooner than that. Better to hold a press conference on a business day, right?

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