Cully Payne: ‘I needed to move on’
Iowa sophomore point guard Cully Payne is leaving the Hawkeye squad.
Payne’s release from his scholarship and plans to transfer were officially announced on Tuesday morning.
Payne started the Hawkeyes’ first five games this past season before suffering a hernia and missing the rest of the year, taking a medical redshirt. He likely would have served as the backup to Bryce Cartwright had he returned next season, but the Schaumburg, Ill., native said that didn’t factor into his decision.
“I just felt like I needed to move on and, for my future, be in a different place,” Payne told The Daily Iowan. “It had nothing to do with Coach [Fran] McCaffery and [the injury], nor did it have to do with the system. It was just something I felt was right at the time.”
Payne said he has been thinking about transferring for a couple weeks, and informed Athletics Director Gary Barta of his decision Monday. The Athletics Department completed the release with a statement Tuesday morning.
“We appreciate Cully’s hard work and contributions to the Iowa basketball program the last two years,” McCaffery said in the statement. “We … wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”
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The details of those future endeavors will be hammered out sometime this month, Payne said. The self-proclaimed “Chicago guy” said he would like to play in the Windy City and will schedule visits to several schools in the area within the next few days.
He mentioned Illinois-Chicago, Loyola, and Northern Illinois as potential landing spots and also hinted at a mystery location.
“The guy I’d love to play for just got a job today — I can’t really say too much about that, but that would definitely be [a] place I’d look at,” Payne said.
That coach might be Mark Gottfried, who was hired by North Carolina State on Tuesday and who recruited Payne when the former was at Alabama. Prior to deciding on Iowa, Payne committed to play for the Crimson Tide but asked out of his letter after Gottfried resigned midway through the 2008-09 season.
No matter where he ends up, though, the 21-year-old said he is thankful for the support he has received from his now-former coaches and teammates.
“I’ve talked to a couple of the coaches, and they [offered] anything they can do to help,” he said. “I live with Eric May and Devon Archie, and those guys have been super supportive and more than willing to help and talk about everything.”
Still, there were some who chose to see the silver lining of Payne’s departure.
“I was really looking forward to seeing him out on the court next year … [but] this frees up a scholarship spot,” Hawks Nest President Kevin Velovitch said. “There has to be some talent out there that we can recruit.”
For now, Hawkeyereport.com’s Tom Kakert said that talent has been narrowed down to three-star prep recruit Elijah Carter (Brewster Academy, N.H.) and junior-college sophomore Pierre Jackson, who just led the College of Southern Idaho to a national championship. Cedar Rapids Washington senior Wes Washpun also received a scholarship offer Tuesday night, according to Hawkeyeinsider.com’s Rob Howe.
Regardless of which player steps up to fill his roster spot, Payne said he has no hard feelings as he moves his career forward.
“It’s been a great experience for me,” he said. “From the coaches to the staff we have here, it’s been great all-around.”
DI reporter Ian Martin contributedto this article.
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