Story by Bailey Bohannan, Staff writer
Cameron Payne’s high school basketball jersey and number will be retired on Monday, Dec. 7 at his high school, Lausanne Collegiate School.
With a pre-ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m., just before the varsity girls’ basketball game, Payne will be able to reminisce with high school teammates and Lausanne alumni, cherish the ceremony with his family, and spend time with his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates as Lausanne prepares to retire his high school No. 3. The official retirement will take place with a short ceremony between the varsity girls’ basketball game and varsity boys’ basketball game.
For a school that has only ever retired one other jersey before and has been more recently acknowledged for the new football program, Kevin Locastro, Athletic Director at Lausanne, said retiring No. 3 for Payne re-establishes the foundation of the athletic program at the high school.
“I think right now there is a lot of excitement built around the fact that we are playing football, but really, I think, the general foundation of the athletic department was built around our basketball program,” Locastro said.
The only other basketball jersey to be retired is Marc Gasol, the current center for the Memphis Grizzlies, in 2008. With Payne’s soon-to-be retired jersey, No. 3 and No. 33 are the only two numbers to ever be retired in school history. Retiring the numbers is the school’s way of acknowledging the excitement and support the high school has for these two NBA athletes.
“Well, obviously we are a small school, with Pre-K through 12th and only 900 students on campus, but we only have 368 kids in high school, so for a school our size to have two players play in the NBA is pretty exciting,” Locastro said.
The retirement of Payne’s jersey is not the only thing that is bringing the Oklahoma City team into Memphis, Tennessee. Payne’s jersey will be retired Monday night, but the only two basketball players to ever have their jersey’s retired from Lausanne will face off as the Thunder goes to Memphis to play the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday night.
Away from Memphis, at Murray State, students such as Brandi Kelley, senior from Owensboro, Kentucky knew Payne as a humble and grateful person, said she thought Payne probably never thought this would ever happen. Kelley said Payne is deserving of this high honor of having his jersey retired.
“You only really ever hear of big names having their numbers retired, so it’s definitely an accolade for him,” Kelley said.
Students, such as Kelley, at Murray state are not the only people proud of Payne’s achievements. With the retirement ceremony approaching, Lausanne is overwhelmed with excitement and pride, Locastro said, and retiring Payne’s jersey is a way to reflect how they feel about having another one of their former students play in the NBA.
“We are just tremendously proud,” Locastro said. “I think it just gives our school, overall, a big sense of pride. One of our own has made it to the highest level and has the opportunity to play in the NBA.”
Although Payne’s jersey is being retired at the high school level, Locastro said Lausanne Collegiate School is excited for Payne’s achievements, and grateful for what Murray State contributed to Payne’s basketball career.
“We certainly appreciate the role that [Murray State] played in his development as well,” Locastro said. “I think that Cameron getting the opportunity to play at Murray and getting to play on that stage up there obviously enhanced his opportunities to play in the NBA. So we appreciate you guys.”