Iowa lands point guard

April 9, 2009

Schaumburg (Ill.) High School point guard Cully Payne officially committed to the Iowa men’s basketball program tonight.

“I’m excited and I’m ready to help turn the program around,” Payne said. “Coach (Todd) Lickliter has got the program headed in the right direction.”

Payne, a 6-foot point guard, originally committed to DePaul as an eighth-grader, but re-opened the recruiting process before his senior year. He then signed a letter of intent to play for Alabama, but when Coach Mark Gottfried resigned this year, Payne obtained a scholarship release. He immediately was interested in Iowa, and the feeling was mutual.

“They were definitely on my radar,” Payne said. “We were joking tonight with Coach Lickliter that I was supposed to go to the elite camp there, but then the flood came. I guess it just really meant I was supposed to be a Hawkeye. They’ve been my No. 1 since (being released from Alabama).”

Payne toured Iowa City during a campus visit last week, but Iowa officials could not contact him from 12:01 p.m. last Thursday through 12:01 p.m. today. The NCAA imposed a week-long recruiting dead period wrapped around the Final Four.

Payne said he thought Iowa was the right fit, but wanted to his family to meet Lickliter to make sure. Lickliter visited Payne in his home today, and Payne gave Lickliter his verbal commitment.

Since his release from Alabama, Payne was recruited by Iowa’s fan base as well. He said he’s received several e-mails and calls from Iowa’s fan encouraging him to attend the school. His girlfriend’s older sister is an Iowa graduate, and that also pushed him toward the school.

“I’m real excited,” he said. “I haven’t heard one negative thing said about Iowa.”

Payne scored 22 points and averaged five assists last year before injuring his back midway through the season. He said his style of play is similar to that of perennial NBA all-star Steve Nash. He said he can score but “it really depends on the situation.”

“I’m definitely a true point guard, someone who can really run the show and get guys involved in the offense,” he said.

Payne is the fourth recruit in Iowa’s 2009 class. Last fall, Sioux City Heelan center Brennan Cougill and Dubuque Wahlert guard/forward Eric May signed letters of intent to Iowa. Last month, Vincennes Junior College forward Devon Archie committed to the Hawkeyes.

Iowa can offer three more scholarships after four players — guards Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, Jermain Davis and forward David Palmer — left the Iowa men’s basketball program last month. It’s likely Iowa will offer only two, however. Chipola (Fla.) Junior College guard Malcolm Armstead and teammate Torye Pelham plan to visit Iowa on April 17.

Payne and Archie will sign official letters of intent April 15, the first allowable spring date under NCAA rules. Coaches cannot comment about players until they sign letters of intent.


Shonn Greene a witness in assault case

April 9, 2009
Iowa Hawkeyes Adrian Clayborn celebrates after tackling Maine Black Bears Jhamal Fluellen for a loss of 3 yards during the third quarter of their game against the Maine Black Bears at Kinnick Stadium on Aug. 30, 2008. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa defensive Adrian Clayborn celebrates after tackling Maine's Jhamal Fluellen for a 3-yard loss during the third quarter of their game at Kinnick Stadium on Aug. 30, 2008. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn will stand trial June 22 on charges he punched an Iowa City cab driver Jan. 18.

Clayborn, a 20-year-old junior from St. Louis, was charged with assault causing bodily injury, a serious misdemeanor. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to the police complaint, Clayborn punched a cab driver who honked at him during a traffic jam around 2 p.m. Jan. 18 at the intersection of Johnson and Bowery streets. The complaint states Clayborn got out of his vehicle, reached inside the driver side window and punched the driver. A court filing states the driver had a swollen lip and a small cut inside his mouth. The police complaint also states a friend had to restrain Clayborn.
Shonn Greene

Shonn Greene

All-American Iowa running back and likely NFL draft pick Shonn Greene was one of six witnesses listed in court documents.  It was undetermined whether it was Greene who restrained Clayborn during the altercation.

Clayborn was arrested March 16 and released on his own recognizance. A pre-trial conference is set for 9 a.m. June 10.

Clayborn remains in good standing with the football team, unlike other players who have had recent legal issues. That includes Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz’s son, James, who was arrested for public intoxication earlier this week. Clayborn started 11 of 13 games last fall as a sophomore.

Alamo Bowl continues climb to prominence

April 9, 2009
Iowa quarterback Drew Tate (5) congratulates  Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (12) following Iowa's 26-24 loss in the  Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, 2006 in San Antonio.

Iowa quarterback Drew Tate (5) congratulates Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (12) following Iowa's 26-24 loss in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

The Alamo Bowl annually picks fourth or fifth among the Big Ten and Big 12’s bowl-eligible teams. But some of those middle-of-the-road school have produced top-tier performances in television viewership and attendance.

In 2006, the Iowa-Texas game posted the best TV ratings of any non-BCS bowl game that season. It was a Saturday night contest and posted a bowl-record 5.99 rating for ESPN, less than 1 full point behind the Orange Bowl that season.

In 2005, the Nebraska-Michigan game also earned the top TV ratings for any non-BCS bowl game in 2005. Both years, the Alamo Bowl blasted past New Year’s Day tradition-rich bowls such as the Cotton, Capital One, Outback and Gator in TV ratings.

The Alamo Bowl now will parlay those impressive ratings into an even better time slot. The Alamo Bowl has joined the New Year’s lineup, playing its game at 7 p.m. Jan. 2, a Saturday. There are five bowl games on Jan. 1 — Outback, Gator, Capital One, Rose and Sugar. Four bowl games are scheduled for Jan. 2 — Cotton, International, Papajohns and Alamo. There’s no BCS bowl scheduled that night, which gives the Alamo the entire spotlight. Only an NFL scheduling curveball could keep the Alamo Bowl from record-breaking ratings.

“This year’s calendar has provided us an excellent primetime Saturday time slot that will allow the Valero Alamo Bowl to reach a wide audience,” said Alamo Bowl President Derrick Fox. “The January 2 date should also work well for people traveling to the game as they can celebrate Christmas at home and then spend a long weekend ringing in the New Year in San Antonio.”

Iowa has played in the bowl four times since its debut in 1993. Iowa has beaten Texas Tech twice (1996, 2001) while losing to California (1993) and Texas in 2006.

The placement appears to be a win-win for the bowl and the participatory leagues in terms of exposure. Past Big Ten schools, such as Northwestern in 2008, looked at the Alamo Bowl as slap. Now, with a primetime slot in January, the Alamo Bowl seems more equal with the Big Ten’s other slotted bowls.

Look for the bowl to push both leagues for marketable teams, both geographically (Big 12 South) and from a national television perspective (say, Wisconsin or Iowa over Northwestern or Purdue). If the bowl can get a high-profile matchup, like in 2005 or 2006, it may be hard to bump the Alamo Bowl from the New Year’s Day lineup.