Michigan State’s Adreian Payne reacts in the first half of a regional final against Connecticut at the NCAA college basketball tournament on Sunday, March 30, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) / AP
CHICAGO — In one simple test, Priority Sports answered a question that plagued Michigan State and its fans for much of the Big Ten season: What was wrong with Adreian Payne?
It emerged this week he would not participate in all drills at the NBA predraft combine because of mononucleosis. But it wasn’t a new case, it was one that was very old.
“The mono’s been in his system for about three months,” said Joel Cornette, director of basketball recruiting for Priority Sports, the Chicago-based agency representing Payne. “When we got him here, it was a matter of an observation. I watched Adreian play darn near every game this year, and to watch a guy who’s a college athlete check in at the 6-minute mark of the game and at the 4:30 mark be keeled over and unable to move, something was wrong. It wasn’t just conditioning coming back from the injury.”
As Priority does with every client, Payne got the full medical full workup and the mono was discovered, which answered a few questions for him.
“The mono affected me a lot, especially during the season,” he said Thursday at the NBA predraft combine, where he measured 6-feet-9 without shoes and weighed 238½ pounds. “In the middle of the night, I was waking up in cold sweats and didn’t know what it was. My throat was sore. I told the trainer; we did what we could do. During the season, once I got back from my foot injury, I missed seven games and was tired of sitting out. I wanted to play. … I didn’t know why I was getting so tired. I just felt weak on the court. At times in the game, I felt exhausted and I didn’t know why.”
MSU spokesman Matt Larson said Payne was never tested for mono during the season. Considering the time he missed with a foot injury and a pre-existing lung condition, stamina issues were not a big surprise.
Given all Payne has endured in his life, losing family and friends, he remains an optimist with no regret.
“I don’t think there’s nothing you can do about it … but just rest,” he said. “So if I found out during the season, I probably wouldn’t have been playing and it would have hurt me (with my draft stock) even more.”
Once it was discovered, Priority halted hisworkouts for two weeks hoping Payne would recover, and he’s much better now, though he still didn’t go through the on-court combine drills.
“Adreian’s been able to go full-go, he looks terrific,” Cornette said. “We pulled him along, and he’s pretty close to full-go. Right now it’s just a matter of actually getting his conditioning back.”