Many times in life it’s about taking advantage of an opportunity that you’re presented with and then it’s up to you.
Former JUCO star Chris Payton was presented with the opportunity to play basketball in one of the best conferences in the country and he didn’t take much time deciding that he wanted to do just that.
On Monday night, Payton informed Jeff Capel that he was accepting his scholarship offer and would be committing to play for the Pitt Panthers. Payton becomes the second recruit for Pitt’s Class of 2021, joining guard Nate Santos. Pitt has also brought aboard transfer guard Jamarius Burton from Texas Tech and forward Daniel Oladapo from Oakland.
This past season at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, Payton averaged 12.5 points and 10 rebounds per game and will have three years to play at Pitt.
Pittsburgh Sports Now caught up with Payton on Tuesday afternoon, who talked to us about how this relationship with Pitt began and why he decided to make the commitment.
“Our relationship and talks began relatively not too long ago,” said Payton. “About two or three weeks ago, they reached out and said that their might be an opportunity for me to play there and that they really liked me. Obviously, I expressed to them that I was interested and would love the opportunity. With Justin (Champagnie) going to the NBA Draft, they reached out yesterday and said I had the offer and after thinking about it with my family, I knew that Pitt was where I wanted to be there. The relationship that I’ve been able to build with the coaches seems really genuine, as they’re excited to be getting me and I’m excited about joining them.”
“The opportunity to come in and play was really big, with them saying that if I did what I had to do both on and off the court, I’d get that chance. Then also the level of competition and Coach Capel with his experience. I obviously really want to learn from someone like that. I obviously know with a program like that, I will be pushed everyday and I believe that will make me a better version of myself.”
Payton tells PSN that he hasn’t talked specifically with Capel about where he will be playing but that he believes his 6’7″ frame is more than capable of handling himself in the ACC and believes he’ll provide the Pitt front court with a presence down in the paint both offensively and defensively.
Available 2021 F Chris Payton Highlights:
-Unanimous Top 5 JC Prospect
-12.5ppg, 10.0rpg, 2.5bpg
-3 Years to Play
-Signed at Southern Illinois out of HS, has held Texas A&M, Missouri, Maryland offers this year
— Hank Plona (@HankPlona_IHCC) April 28, 2021
“I believe that Pitt is getting a really hard worker,” said Payton. “Once I went to junior college, I really learned what it meant to work hard and ever since then, I’ve been applying that to every situation in life. I believe that Pitt is not only getting a really good basketball player but a really good person. On the court, I rebound really well, I have really good bounce and good timing, I’m really good on defense and that I can be placed anywhere and I’ll make something good happen. My offense, I’m really good around the basket and have a good jump shot and working on making it something that I’m very consistent at. My three-point shot is something that I’m working on developing. I get most of my points by getting fouled a lot and I get a lot of points right around the basket, I believe I’m very efficient there.”
The addition of Payton gives Pitt ten scholarship players, not counting Nike Sibande, who is taking advantage of the NCAA to play an extra season. Not counting John Hugley, who’s still currently suspended, Capel could still add as many as four players for next seasons roster.