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Prep Zone

Schwab: Ball State the new gameplan for North’s Payne

Quinten Payne said he has leaned on a deep support network – family, friends, his girlfriend, his coach – in dealing with what has been a stressful last month.

When it came to making the final call on his new college destination, Payne opted for a more streamlined approach: his gut.

The St. Charles North senior guard said that’s what led him to a swift decision Monday night just after concluding his two-day campus visit at Ball State. He verbally committed to the Cardinals then and plans to sign his letter of intent late this week or early next.

“You know how sometimes when you find that situation where you know you have that gut feeling it’s the right situation – right when I got on campus and even before that I had that gut feeling with Coach [James] Whitford and the assistant coaches it was going to be a great situation for me,” Payne said.

Payne signed with Loyola in the fall but changed his plans after the season ended when his older brother, Cully, decided not to return to the Ramblers’ program for his senior season. Cully Payne also is looking for a new hoops destination for next season and could end up in the Mid-American Conference like his little brother; Cully Payne plans an upcoming visit to Western Michigan.

The ultra-aggressive, 6-foot-4 Payne was the Kane County Chronicle Boys Basketball Player of the Year as a senior. He led the area with 19.8 points a game in leading the North Stars to an 18-11 season.

Payne also visited Virginia Tech and Eastern Illinois in recent weeks before choosing Ball State on Monday night. He had offers from Ball State and Eastern.

If he had opted for the Panthers, Payne would again have been ticketed to a share a college campus with a basketball-playing sibling. Payne’s sister, Katlyn, plays for the EIU women’s basketball team.

“She was always giving me reasons why I should go there but she’s a sister – she understands I might not have chosen her school to go to, but she’s going to support me,” Payne said.

Whitford, former associate head coach at Arizona, has been on the job in Muncie, Ind., less than a month, having been named the Cardinals’ coach April 10.

“I love the style of play Coach Whitford brought in with the fast pace like the Arizona offense he came from, the pack-line defense and switching that up on different opportunities,” Payne said. “I love his style of play and I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for me.”

Payne’s unusual family circumstances are well-documented. Both of his parents played Division I college basketball, and he is among three siblings who intend to play D-I ball next year. Both Cully and Katlyn have dealt with transfers at the college level, which Payne said gave him deeper insight into his second go-around through the recruiting process.

He said playing for a new coach increases the prospects for stability in the program during his career, which was appealing.

“It was just one of those things where I’m a little more experienced from seeing my brother and my sister and my mom and dad of seeing what the good and bad of college are,” Payne said. “That made it a little easier. A lot of kids, this is their first time going through it.”

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or

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