Dec. 24, 2007
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - USC Upstate standout senior Luke Payne has been named the Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week for men's basketball, released the league Monday.
"Luke getting the award is symptomatic of the improvement the team has made," said Upstate head coach Eddie Payne, who is also Luke's father. "We are playing better as a team, moving the ball around and people are hitting shots. Luke is doing his part. It's a really great honor. He has gone out and performed and gotten an award he truly deserves."
Payne had an exceptional week in leading Upstate to its first win over a Division I opponent and earning All-Tournament honors at the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament in El Paso, Texas. He averaged 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game during the three-game span.
Payne started the week with 19 points, three assists and three steals to lead Upstate to a 58-56 win at SMU, leading the Spartans to their first win over a Division I opponent in the history of the program.
Payne finished with 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals in the loss at UTEP in the first round of the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament. Against Buffalo in the consolation game of the Sun Bowl tourney, he scored a career-high 26 points, including nine straight to get the Spartans within striking distance in the second half, to go with five rebounds and three assists. He averaged 18.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in the tournament.
Payne leads the team in scoring and ranks sixth in the A-Sun with 16.2 points per game. He also averages 2.7 rebounds per outing and leads the Spartans in assists with 34 in 11 games. He surpassed the 1,000-point mark earlier this year, becoming the 17th player in the history of the program to reach the milestone. He currently ranks 13th all-time at Upstate with 1,127 points.
Payne becomes the first basketball player at Upstate to earn A-Sun weekly honors and the fourth Spartan to win player of the week/month honors since the beginning of the year. Josh Gallman has won player of the month honors twice for men's golf, while Troy Simon and Jason McCabe were named player and defensive player of the week for men's soccer.