Payne to enter 2015 NBA draft

Jenny Rohl/The News Head Coach Steve Prohm comforts sophomore point guard Cameron Payne as he addresses fans and media at his April 6 press conference in the Murray Room of the CFSB Center.

Sophomore point guard Cameron Payne announced today that he will not be returning to Murray State for the 2015-16 season, instead he will enter his name in the 2015 NBA draft. Payne is projected to go in the 12-25 range in the first round June 25 when the draft takes place in New York City.

Payne announced his departure during a press conference hosted at the Murray Room in the CFSB Center. Fans and community members gathered with the team, coaching staff and local media to hear opening statements from both Payne and Head Coach Steve Prohm. Those in attendance enjoyed refreshments while Payne took pictures, shook hands and signed autographs for fans young and old.

“It’s an unbelievable day for our program,” Prohm said. “It’s about the players. You need to be a player’s program first and foremost. And so this is an awesome day for our program, an awesome day for him and his family.”

Payne and Prohm sat side-by-side as they spoke of his short but successful career at Murray State. Tears filled Payne’s eyes as he thanked Racer Nation, his teammates and his coaches.

“This program as a whole – Murray State – has transformed boys into men and I can see that inside myself,” Payne said. “The best thing about this Murray State tradition is Coach Prohm. He’s the best basketball coach I’ve played for in a very long time. I love him. I couldn’t be any happier to play for him. I look up to him in so many ways.”

Prohm expressed similar sentiments, joking about the “gangly kid from Memphis” that stepped up to fill former point guard Isaiah Canaan’s shoes. Although speculation of Payne’s departure has been present all season, Prohm said the game against the University of Evansville is when he thought to himself “We probably need to recruit some other point guards.”

“He’s only played two years,” Prohm said. “But he’s got a good shot of getting his jersey retired. And we talked about that a little bit, and he said, ‘Well, coach, Isaiah’s not up there yet.’ I said ‘Don’t worry about that. His will go up soon and yours will probably go up next.'”

Over the next two months, Payne plans to play in every pre-draft tournament that presents itself in hopes of raising his rank. His most important goal, however, is just to shake the NBA commissioner’s hand and get a hat.

“It was a dream,” Payne said. “Everyone has their goals, and that was a dream goal for me. I never would have thought I would have made it, or have a chance to do that. I’m just blessed. I thank God for everything.”

Story by Mallory Tucker