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The Gators are making their case to 2019 in-state power forward Omar Payne

07/04/2017, 4:30pm EDT
By Russ Wood

Omar Payne

Power forward

4 STARS

Ht: 6'9"

Wt: 195 lbs

Class: 2019

June 15 was the first day that college coaches could make direct contact with players in the class of 2019. One of several in-state prospects to hear from Florida was Osceola (Kissimmee) High School standout Omar Payne. Two weeks after contact began Payne, joined by his mother and his AAU coach, took an unofficial visit to Gainesville.

“It was good it’s a nice campus,” Payne said of the visit which started at 11am and lasted until about 4pm. “They have an academic place for the student athletes (Hawkins Center), that was pretty good.”

In addition to getting the ‘golf cart tour’ of campus Payne also met with the Gators strength and conditioning coach (Preston Greene), the team trainer (Dave “Duke” Werner) and the team nutritionist before watching the coaches put current players through a workout. Payne and his mother, Diane Pemberton, were both impressed by what Greene had to say and show them.

“He talked about the stuff that they do to get the players bigger,” Payne said. “He also said there was this one dude that he was too big so he couldn’t weight lift so they just made him do stretching and stuff like that. So they design stuff just for you.”

“They showed us before pictures of the guys when they came in from high school and a year later how much they developed,” Pemberton said. “That was impressive, how they take care of them.”

Payne has been on Florida’s campus before for the Gators Team Camp but this was the first time he and his mother toured the campus and were exposed to what the University of Florida has to offer.

“The coaches were all friendly and pretty good with us,” said Pemberton. “What I liked was the time they put in for all the athletes, not just basketball. They really focus on their classes and everything.”

Payne, the No. 50 ranked rising junior, flew under the radar a bit because he missed playing time a year ago due to back surgery. At the time Payne was 6-foot-5. One year later he is a healthy athletic forward with excellent size (6-foot-9) and length (7-foot-5 wingspan) who loves blocking shots and getting out in transition to finish an alley oop. Payne is a low post threat and a good area rebounder. He is working on his face-up game to add versatility. Something he worked on at the Pangos All-American Camp and the NBPA Top 100 Camp.

“It was a good experience,” Payne said of the camps. “I learned some stuff I need to do to work on my game because all the top kids were there so I learned some stuff I need to do to improve to be better than them.”

The four-star forward helped lead Osceola to a 30-2 record, and the 9A state championship in March. He has followed that up by helping to lead his Orlando based CP25 Southeast Elite (aka Team Parsons) team to win the Adidas Gauntlet Silver 16U Championship and earn their way into the Adidas Gauntlet Gold Finale next week in South Carolina.

Gators assistant coach Dusty May, who leads Payne’s recruitment, has made several trips to Kissimmee to watch Payne workout or in open gyms, as well as scouting the rising junior on the travel circuit. May planned Payne’s visit itinerary, and Pemberton gave the trip to Gainesville a high score on a scale of one-to-ten.

“I give it a nine,” Pemberton said. “I really like the coach. So far with schools calling him since this started, this thing with calling the kids since the 15th of June, there’s only a few that have reached out to me. So, I’m impressed with schools that’s not just going to talk with him but asking him ‘hey could I talk to a parent,’ and so far there is only a couple of schools who have done that.”

 

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