Mark Payne Interview
NBADraft.net: You have worked out for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Phoenix Suns and the Boston Celtics. Tell us about those experiences. Are there any other teams you plan to work out for?
Mark Payne: All three basketball organizations have a lot to offer. It has always been my dream to play in the NBA and get drafted and I definitely don’t take these opportunities for granted. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to showcase my skills in the individual workouts and believe it has helped my draft stock. I think a lot of teams see my enthusiasm and passion for the game on the court and how much I want to be in this league. All three organizations have great management and coaching staff’s that can really help me develop into the type of player that can have a long and successful career in the NBA.
I also worked out with the Houston Rockets and will work out for the Sacramento Kings on June 21st.
NBADraft.net: How would you describe your game?
Mark Payne: I think the best ways to describe my game is being “very versatile and unique”. I feel that there are a lot of different areas that I can positively impact an NBA team. My size, quickness, and jumping ability have really helpedseparate me from a lot of the guard prospects in the draft. I can play the point guard, shooting guard, and small forward positions. This versatility is what the NBA teams are interested in.
NBADraft.net: What position do you see yourself playing at the next level?
Mark Payne: I feel very comfortable being a combo guard at the next level. I have been a point guard my whole life and spent most of my career at UC Davis in that role as the primary facilitator. I have spent the last few years developing my shot and working to develop my game to become a more prolific scorer off the ball. I feel that with my height and quickness I can create some serious matchup issues for an opposing team at the point guard position. Several NBA teams have expressed their interest in having a point guard that can rebound and run the fast break.
NBADraft.net: Do you consider yourself more of a scorer or more of a distributor?
Mark Payne: My first few years at UC Davis I was primarily known for being a distributor and creating plays for my teammates. I am a very unselfish player and honestly get the same satisfaction in making the assist as making the shot. My junior and senior year at UC Davis my team relied on me a lot more to be a primary scorer. Whether a team is looking for me to be a distributor or more of a scorer, I am always looking to be aggressive and take advantage of any mismatch the opposing team might give me.
NBADraft.net: What aspects of your game do you feel you improved on the most? What aspects do you need to work on the most for the next level?
Mark Payne: A big aspect of my game that has improved is my shooting. I have always been known for being a quick and explosive guard and the past few years I have really taken a lot of pride in becoming a better shooter and all around more aggressive scorer. The last 3 summers I have spent multiple hours a day (generally two sessions a day) shooting jump shots. I have noticed that opposing teams have had to change the way they defend me and can not afford to just back off me and try and prevent me fromgetting to the rim.
Another big aspect of my game that has improved over the years that you won’t find on a statistic sheet is my leadership on the court. I am not a shy player on the court. Playing the point guard role I am always looking to be the primary facilitator and be very vocal to my teammates. Communication is huge and I am always looking to try and take advantage of any mismatch I might see on the court.
The biggest area of my game that I am looking to improve is my defense. I feel that my size, length, and athleticism gives me the tools I need to be good defenderin the NBA. This has been a major focus of mine in the NBA workouts in hopes of proving that I can stop some of the top prospects in the draft. I look forward to showing the next level that this is an area that I can develop into a strong asset of my game and not necessarily a weakness.
NBADraft.net: Do you think playing at UC Davis has prepared you for the next level?
Mark Payne: Playing for UC Davis has been a great experience. I am forever grateful to the university and coaching staff for a wonderful college experience. While the Big West might not necessarily be considered an elite basketball conference, I feel like I have maximized the last 5 years (I redshirted one year) and made the most of my college basketball eligibility. I have spent the last 3 summers at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas with Joe Abunassar and some of the top NBA players (Chauncey Billups, Kevin Garnett, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce). These summer workouts in Las Vegas gave me an insight into the work ethic of NBA’s elite and gave me the confidence that I can compete at the NBA level.
You have played or worked out with some of the top ranked players in this draft. Is there one player in particular that has impressed you?
Mark Payne: Derrick Williams from Arizona is a tremendous players and very versatile. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is selected as the number one overall pick by the Cavs. Also Josh Selby is an incredible player with a lot of potential and upside. I would argue that he is the quickest player in the draft. It has been great being able to play and compete with these players and I know they will have successful careers in the NBA.
NBADraft.net: Is there an NBA player that you model your game after?
Mark Payne: Russell Westbrook. He is long and athletic and this creates serious mismatches for smaller guards. He is one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA and his ability to push the ball and make plays for his team is a tremendous asset for the Thunder.
NBADraft.net: Will the potential NBA lockout make you more likely to consider offers from teams outside the NBA?
Mark Payne: At this point, I am focusing 100% of my attention on the draft and the NBA. I have had positive feedback from various teams and think there is a strong likelihood that I am drafted in the late second round. I am disappointed that the Vegas Summer League has been canceled because it was another avenue in helping showcase my skills to NBA teams. If I am not drafted, I will shift my focus to playing in Europe. My agent has already been approached by some top teams in Europe, specifically Spain. However, we are putting off European workouts until after the draft.
NBADraft.net: Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience?
Mark Payne: I would encourage young players to work hard and always follow your dreams. I am an example of someone who was not heavily recruited in high school (developed really late…didn’t even play AAU) and choose to pursue basketball and a top level education. With today’s media exposure, even playing at a small school enables you the opportunity to play in front of NBA scouts and make it to the NBA. Keep working every day and good things generally happen.
I like Payne, I don't think he'll get drafted, IF there was as summer league I think he'd raise some eyebrows like Matt Janning did last season. I think he could play his way into the league at somepoint in his career, although I don't see him being a major contributor.