Iowa basketball recruiting hits a snag

April 15, 2009

According to our friends at the HawkeyeNation and HawkeyeReport Web sites, it appears Iowa’s efforts to land a pair of Chipola (Fla.) Junior College players Malcolm Armstead and Torye Pelham are on life support.

It appears now that Pelham won’t visit Iowa, while Armstead will visit St. John’s rather than Iowa. Armstead had a visit scheduled for Friday, but it has not been rescheduled.

It also appears Chipola Coach Greg Heiar, a Dubuque native, will join Southern Mississippi Coach Larry Eustachy in Hattiesburg, Miss. One wonders if Heiar is trying to steer either of those players to Southern Miss. Also, if Southern Miss lands either (or both) play, is that adequate compensation for the schools’ trademark dispute?


Iowa men to ink 2 today; women to sign 1

April 14, 2009
Cull Payne

Cully Payne

Iowa’s men’s basketball team plans to sign two players to letters of intent today, the first official day basketball recruits can sign with colleges this spring.

Vincennes University (a junior college basketball program in Indiana) forward Devon Archie (6-foot-9) committed to Iowa in March. Archie started 19 of 30 games at Vincennes, averaging 6.8 points and six rebounds a game. He hit 54.5 percent of his field goals but sank just 43.8 percent of his foul shots.

Schaumburg (Ill.) High School point guard Cully Payne also expects to sign a letter of intent. Payne, who stands 601 committed to Iowa last week. He averaged 22 points last year, but was hindered by a stress fracture in his back. Payne missed the last half of the basketball season.

Archie and Payne will join 6-9 Brennan Cougill, a Sioux City Heelan center, and 6-4 Eric May (Dubuque Wahlert) this fall. Chipola (Fla.) Junior College freshman guard Malcolm Armstead (6-1) was scheduled to visit Iowa on Friday but apparently will not, according to multiple Web sites.

Iowa has at least two more scholarships to offer after four players with eligibility left the program following the season. Sophomore guard Jake Kelly will sign with Indiana State, while junior guard Jermain Davis will sign with Division II Minnesota State-Mankato. Sophomore guard Jeff Peterson is still searching for a school, as is junior forward David Palmer, who will graduate in May. Palmer is looking at playing Division II basketball.

Iowa’s women expect to sign one player Wednesday. Ames’ Trisha Nesbitt averaged 16.2 points last year while leading Ames to the Class 4A state finals. Nesbitt, a four-year starter, had 128 assists, 81 rebounds and 65 steals last year.

Nesbitt joined a class of five next fall. Iowa signed Linn-Mar’s Jaime Printy, Platte County (Mo.) center Morgan Johnson, Gabby Machado of Pontiac, Mich., and Theairra Taylor of St. Paul (Minn.) Central. Taylor suffered a torn ACL in her left knee and her status is undetermined next year.

Basketball players can sign with colleges beginning today through May 20.

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.

Coach: Payne likes Iowa but has other suitors

April 2, 2009
Point guard Cully Payne

Point guard Cully Payne

Schaumburg, Ill., point guard Cully Payne left Iowa on Wednesday impressed with the school, high school coach Bob Williams said.
“Everything he said about the visit was positive,” Williams said. “He liked the campus, he liked the coaches, he liked everything about the campus.”
Iowa has offered Payne a scholarship just days after Payne was released from his letter of intent from Alabama. Payne was slated to visit Washington State, but Coach Tony Bennett left for Virginia.
Williams said Tennessee and George Mason have contacted him about Payne as well. Perhaps aiding Iowa’s chances is a familiar face. Former Schaumburg prep Kyle Braheny was the head manager for the basketball team.
Williams said Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter plans to visit Payne and his family April 9. The NCAA has instituted a dead period from April 2 through 12:01 p.m. April 9.
Williams described the 6-foot-1 as unselfish and a true leader.
“He’s a point guard, and he’s a true point guard in that fact that he’s very unselfish,” Williams said. “He does whatever is necessary to make the team successful. That’s probably his defining characteristic.
“We’ve had tremendous success here, and what we’re kind of known for is great teamwork and tremendous defense. That’s kind of what our tag has been. He averaged 22 points a game. He scan score; the kid can flat-out score, but he’s not selfish in anyway whatsoever.
That’s a rare kid who can score a lot of points but runs the team and gets the ball where it’s supposed to be.”
Payne played two years of high school ball at Burlington Central in the Chicago suburbs before transferring to Schaumburg. He injured his back this year and missed the final month of the season.
Payne originally committed to DePaul, but pulled out earlier this year. Then he committed to Alabama, but was released from his commitment when Crimson Tide Coach Mark Gottfried resigned.
Payne comes from an athletic background. His father, Kent Payne, is athletics director at Elgin (Ill.) Community College.
Four different Iowa players announced they were leaving the program last week. Iowa likely will offer three scholarships during the spring signing period, which begins April 15.
Iowa also hopes to land freshman guard Malcolm Armstead (6-foot) and sophomore forward Torye Pelham (6-6) from Chipola (Fla.) Junior College.

Recruiting’s dead zone cripples Iowa basketball

April 2, 2009


Iowa’s basketball coaches have burned up the miles and the phones trying to snag a few more recruits to replace the four players that left the program last week.

Cully Payne, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Schaumburg, Ill., toured the campus Wednesday and seemed to like Iowa City from all accounts. Likewise, Iowa has been after freshman guard Malcolm Armstead (6-foot) and sophomore forward Torye Pelham (6-6) from Chipola (Fla.) Junior College all season.

So what’s stopping Iowa now? The NCAA. At 12:01 p.m. today, Iowa cannot contact any recruits. It’s a dead period through noon on April 9. So Iowa coaches can’t visit Payne or his parents, or host Armstead or Pelham for a visit until 12:01 p.m. April 9. From that moment through April 12, Iowa coaches can criss-cross the country. Then it’s a dead period from April 13 through April 16. That includes national signing day on April 15.

Iowa likely will sign three players, possibly as soon as April 15. The spring signing date lasts until May 20.