SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Former USC Upstate basketball standout Luke Payne helped guide the Lakeside Lightning to a regular season championship and the No. 1 seed in the SBL (Australia) Playoffs. The Lightning will battle the East Perth Eagles this weekend in the quarterfinal round.
Payne, a 2008 Upstate graduate, wrapped up another successful regular season in Australia as he currently leads the team and ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 27.8 points per game. He is second on the team in steals (2.1 spg) and sits tied for 11th in the SBL.
Payne got off to a slow start to begin the 2011 campaign as he scored seven points in the season opener and four points a week later. Payne reached double-figures with 15 points against the Perth Redbacks in the third contest of the season. That began a streak of 24 straight games of double-digit scoring for the former Spartan and he finished the regular season with 23 consecutive games of 20 or more points.
Payne posted a new career-high with 50 points on July 1st in a 100-86 victory over Rockingham. He connected on a season-best 19 field goals (27 attempts) against the Flames. Payne also connected on a season-high 11 three pointers (13 attempts).
Lakeside finished the regular season 24-2 overall and the Lightning have won 16 consecutive games. Payne helped keep the streak alive with a buzzer beater against the Mandurah Magic on July 15th (W, 113-111).
Payne was a four-year standout playing for his father, Eddie Payne, at Upstate from 2004-08 and was named the male Student-Athlete of the Year as a senior. He averaged 11.6 points for his career and finished his four years ranked ninth all-time in scoring with 1,381 points. As a senior, he averaged 14.9 points in leading Upstate in its first year playing on the NCAA Division I level and in the A-Sun in 2007-08. He was named to the all-tournament teams at the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament in El Paso, Texas.
He became the first Upstate basketball player to earn weekly honors from the A-Sun, earning player of the week honors following Upstate's win at SMU in December of 2007. He was also a standout in the classroom, earning first team ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District honors as a senior. He was a three-time member of the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Academic Honor Roll and a member of the A-Sun All-Academic team in 2007-08.