Iowa’s pleasure with Cully Payne

June 15, 2009
Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing's Cully Payne (3) brings the ball down the court during the team's game against Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys on the opening night of the Prime Time league Monday, June 15, 2009 at the North Liberty Community Center in North Liberty.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing's Cully Payne (3) brings the ball down the court during the team's game against Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurrys on the opening night of the Prime Time league Monday, June 15, 2009 at the North Liberty Community Center in North Liberty. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

NORTH LIBERTY — Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter recruited point guard Cully Payne to run the show for the Hawkeyes. Last night, Payne showed that he might be ready for the job.

Payne, a 6-foot incoming freshman from Schaumberg, Ill., passed the ball with both consistency and flair during his team’s Prime Time League game. He controlled the game’s tempo, moved well without the ball and shot the ball decently from the outside. It was just one outing of many for Payne, but he showed he’s going to compete for more than just playing time this year.

“He’s a great shooter, great passer,” said incoming Iowa sophomore Aaron Fuller, who plays with Payne on Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing. “He’s only going to get better. He’s young. I’m excited to see how he progresses throughout the summer.”

Payne scored 12 points and dished two assists in his team’s 89-74 win against Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry’s. Often the best passes he made helped get people in position to get to the basket, which didn’t count for assists.

Early in the second half he sank three-pointers from the left perimeter on consecutive possessions. Later in the game from the right side of the basket, the left-handed Payne faked to the post then drove to the hoop and scored on a layup with his right hand.

“I felt comfortable,” Payne said. “I wasn’t nervous or any of that stuff. It was fun for me.

“I’m really working on ball screens and getting a lane created for people, which a true point guard really does a lot of. … I think I’m pretty good off the ball screen and I can really distribute which I think will be good for us.”

Payne was a late addition to the Hawkeyes. He originally committed to DePaul and later signed with Alabama. After a coaching change, he was released from his scholarship and was interested in Iowa. Lickliter locked him up on the first signing date this spring.

Iowa also needs a point guard this year. Jeff Peterson and Jake Kelly started every game at the point last year but both transferred after the season, as did reserve guard Jermain Davis. Anthony Tucker is the only returnee with point guard experience, but he played in only half of Iowa’s games before becoming academically ineligible.

“They’re looking for me to kind of control the tempo and be a true point guard and do the control thing, which I tried to do (last night),” Payne said.

Payne suffered a hairline fracture in his back last season and missed his high school team’s final 14 games.  But the injury has healed, and Payne was cleared to play by his doctor.

“I feel good. I’m at 100 percent,” he said. “Actually I went to the orthopedic today for a checkup and everything is good to go.

“It was an overuse injury. I got undercut twice in a high school game, and I fell on my back. Finally, I was in so much pain, I went in and they said it was a hairline fracture.”

Payne has played pick-up basketball with his future teammates for about a week. He said he’s trying to soak in as much knowledge of the Iowa system as he can.

Incoming Iowa sophomore Matt Gatens said he likes the way Payne competes from his limited time with the incoming freshman.

“I think (Payne) knows he’s going to have to come in right away because we’re kind of short-handed at that position,” Gatens said. “I’ve got great confidence in him. He’s shown a lot in the first week or so, and he’s shooting the ball up better than I was told he could shoot it so that’s definitely huge for us.

“He takes care of the ball and it seems like he plays with a lot of confidence. It’s a good thing for a point guard and something we’re going to need.”


Initial thoughts from the PTL in North Liberty

June 15, 2009

My initial thoughts from the Prime Time League on Monday:

I covered the game pitting Cully Payne, Aaron Fuller, Devan Bawinkel on one side and Jordan Eglseder and Eric May on the other. Payne, the point guard, was terrific in his debut. He distributes the ball well, has good movement and can shoot from the outside. He’s unselfish and gets other players involved in the game. He’s a major asset for the Iowa program, although it’s too early to tell at what level he will impact the team.

Fuller is much bigger and stronger inside. May is a hard-nosed kid who’s unafraid of going after the ball. Eglseder has slimmed down and looks solid.

Payne’s team won 89-74. Payne scored 12 points and had two assists. Eglseder led all scorers with 25 points.

At some point this evening I’ll have video of Payne and my story for Tuesday’s paper up and online.

New York Jets ink Shonn Greene

June 15, 2009
Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene signed a contract today with the New York Jets, the team announced today. The Jets drafted Greene with the first pick in the third round in April’s NFL draft.

Terms were not disclosed. Here’s the story from the Jets’ Web site:

Payne makes debut tonight in PTL

June 15, 2009

With fewer teams this year, the Prime Time League looks more competitive and more interesting. Tonight, I’m planning to cover the Mike Gatens Real Estate/McCurry’s (Team No. 4) vs. Imprinted Sportswear/Goodfellow Printing (Team No. 5) matchup.

In real terms, I want to see incoming Iowa freshman Cully Payne run the point for No. 5. He’s playing with future teammates Aaron Fuller and Devan Bawinkel, along with Northern Iowa’s Anthony James, Marc Sonnon and Antonio Jones. The No. 4 team features UNI’s Jordan Eglseder and Brian Haak and Iowa’s Eric May and John Lickliter.

I’m planning to cover all of the PTL games this summer so if you’ve got questions, fire them away.