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Evan Payne is set to leave Huntington Prep, might attend Firestone

By mikeb Published: January 4, 2012

Former Walsh Jesuit basketball standout Evan Payne reportedly is set to leave his prep school in West Virginia.

Payne was back in Akron today at Firestone High School, but has not officially enrolled according to principal Larry Petry and Falcons basketball coach Dave Milo.

Even if he does in enroll, Milo said the Ohio High School Athletic Association will not make him eligible to play because he already played games this season for Huntington Prep.

“He is ineligible to play here,” Milo said. “He already played this year.

“I’m not sure what he is going to do.”

Payne, a 6-foot-2 and 190-pound guard, has scholarship offers and receiving interest from several colleges.

“He was in today talking with the enrollment people,” Petry said. “He lives in the district and he is entitled to go here.”

Payne’s family lived in the Firestone neighborhood in West Akron while he attended Walsh. He transferred to Huntington Prep this past summer in hopes of gaining more national exposure.

Payne was an Associated Press Division II All-Ohio selection last season and the All-Northeast Ohio Inland District Player of the Year. He averaged 24.5 points in the regular season and contributed four rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks per game.

Payne led Walsh to a 76-70 victory over host Firestone one year ago on Jan. 4 with 28 points.

He also shined against the Warriors biggest rivals last season, scoring 22 points against Archbishop Hoban and 30 points in one meeting against St. Vincent-St. Mary.

Payne’s most memorable basket last season came on March 12 when he launched an off-balance 3-pointer from just beyond mid-court with less than two seconds to go in overtime to defeat Buchtel 63-60 in a Division II district final at Stow. Payne grabbed a rebound, then dribbled to his right and proceeded up the court to his left when he shot the ball off the backboard and through the net to give him 18 points.

He scored 16 points in Walsh's 63-51 loss to eventual state champion St. V-M in a regional semifinal in Canton on March 17.

Payne set the Walsh single-game record for scoring, twice reaching 37 points. His first 37-point game came against visiting Hoban in a 71-66 win on Jan. 22, 2010 and his second 37-point game came against visiting Cleveland St. Ignatius in a 65-58 win on Feb. 6, 2011.

The University of Akron, Cleveland State, Loyola (Ill.), Nebraska, Southern California, Central Florida, Kent State, Texas Christian, Central Michigan and Toledo have all been involved in recruiting Payne.

Huntington Prep is a self-described “basketball factory” that features sophomore Andrew Wiggins, a 6-foot-7 forward from Toronto, who is the No. 1 college recruit in the class of 2014 according to, and Wiggins has scholarship offers from several colleges.

The Express also have Missouri recruits Negus Webster-Chan (6-foot-6) and Stefan Jankovic (6-foot-10) who are from Toronto and West Virginia recruit Elijah Macon (6-foot-8) who hails from Columbus.

Coach Rob Fulford started the basketball academy three years ago in Huntington.

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