Sometimes all it takes is one game to really propel your confidence to astronomical levels. One could argue this is exactly what happened with 6’7”/235 lb. Concord 1st Assembly Junior Nico Payne.

The Setting:
2015 2A NCISAA State Championship game. Payne’s Concord 1st Assembly faced off against 2 time defending state champion Northside Christian.

The Background:
Northside Christian was the overwhelming favorite coming into the 2A NCISAA state championship game. They were led by former Charlotte star and NBA player Byron Dinkins as well as the likes of 6’5” High flying FGCU commit Rayjon Tucker and 6’2 sweet-shooting Senior Lysander Bracey. Concord 1st Assembly was led by 6’4” high scoring senior Charles Minlend, who averaged 26 points per game and had been on a tear through the playoffs.

The Player:
Around the game planning circles the 6’7” Junior Nico Payne had been a known commodity, as the complimentary piece to Minlend. He had not yet made many recruiting strides. His role on the team was a high-motor brute for the team. There were not many plays run for him, but his instruction “fight like hell for every loose ball.” And he fought! On the season, Payne averaged 9.4 points, 10 boards, and close to 2 blocks per game.

The Result:
Payne went on to score 22 points and secure 15 boards in this 2A NCISAA state championship game. For this game, he was unquestionably the best player on the floor.

Since his state championship win, Payne has not looked back. He picked up with the newly reformed Charlotte Royals AAU team. Through two April Live period events, the Payne led Royals have won 17U Gold bracket championships, including the ACC division of the Grassroots Tip-Off Classic.

Payne has a naturally big and strong frame, almost like that of a tight end. He has chiseled down to a lean and very bullish 235 pounds. During the Grassroots Tip-Off Classic, Payne looked comfortable in his role as the team’s alpha dog. Being the alpha dog on this Charlotte Royals is no small task. They are a hodge-podge of 12 talented players that are all scholarship level guys and the best players on their respective high school teams. All 12 guys will end up playing at a high level D2 or low to mid D1 players, and there is no doubt which player is the man.

Through the Grassroots Tip Off Classic, Payne showed to be a comfortable two level scorer. When they ran sets for him at the high post, he attacked the rim and finished with contact. When they ran sets for him on the low block he showed solid footwork and bear paws for hands. On defense and on the boards, Payne still carries that ‘fight like hell’ mentality. True to form, Payne averaged

From all accounts, we have just started to see the beginning of this scrappy…no…fighter…no…high-motor…no…brute…of Nico Payne. My advice: be one of the first on this train, it could get crowded

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