Aug. 22, 2021: 2022 Park of Cottage Grove (MN) forward Pharrel Payne verbally committed to the Gophers Thursday afternoon.
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The Ben Johnson-era of Minnesota basketball recruiting has officially heated up. 6-foot-9 big man Pharrel Payne joins Park Center’s Braeden Carrington as Johnson’s first two in-state recruits to opt into staying home. Payne, a perennial top 100 talent chose Minnesota over top offers from Texas A&M, Loyola-Chicago and Saint Louis among others.
— pharrelpayne (@pharrelpayne) August 22, 2021
Who is Pharrel Payne?:
Pharrel Payne is a soon-to-be senior student-athlete at Park High School in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. On the basketball court, he is a 6-foot-9 versatile big man who plays his AAU basketball for MN Select. As he has just begun to grow into his long frame, he has quickly made a name for himself on the recruiting scene.
Payne is the definition of a “late-bloomer.” Standing at 6-foot-9 he is a bit undersized to be a true center, but he has the athleticism and length to be a more than effective small-ball five. As he continues to grow into his body, he is the type of developmental player who could be the type of diamond in the rough prospect this program needs. With that being said, Payne certainly has the skill set to rapidly improve and be a contributor early in his Gophers career. He has pure athleticism and the skills to be a terrific two-way player. He is much more than a rim-running big man, and he seriously has the base skills to be an elite offensive option.
In-state recruiting continues to be a hot topic amongst fans of Gophers basketball. Ben Johnson is beginning to live up to his billing of someone who will be able to keep talent home. Pharrel Payne is the type of player that this program needs to recruit and the type of player Ben Johnson needed to add.
Payne might not be a serious contributor early in his Gophers career, but at his current pace of development, I would not be surprised if he was. I have previously said that the Suggs/Holmgren/Hurt level players were never staying home, as a fan myself it has frustrated me when players like McKinley Wright, Theo John and Jericho Sims have successful careers elsewhere. I believe Pharrel Payne has the potential to be that level of collegiate player. His commitment on top of Braeden Carrington is a huge step in the right direction for the Johnson-era of Gophers’ hoops.
What is next?:
After Payne and Carrington’s commitment, the future is looking much brighter for Minnesota basketball. ‘22 Osseo forward Joshua Ola-Joseph is expected to officially visit with the Gophers this Wednesday and Thursday, so a big month of in-state recruiting could continue. I personally am a huge fan of what this roster could look like for the 2022-23 season.
SG: Abdoulaye Thiam
SF: Jamison Battle
PF: Parker Fox/Isaiah Ihnen
C: Treyton Thompson/Pharrel Payne
That is a terrific start for a roster that could seriously compete in the Big Ten conference very soon. It was a bit unrealistic to expect a new head coach returning one single player from a season ago to put together a competitive roster in his first year at the helm, but looking at next season has me excited for the future. Outside of Osseo’s Ola-Joseph Byron’s Ahjany Lee would likely be the Gophers biggest in-state target for the class of 2022. In the past few weeks, there have been a plethora of recruits out of state that has included Minnesota in their final list of schools, so I think we are far from seeing the final product of the 2022 recruiting class. I again would like to preach patience to fans of Gophers basketball, Ben Johnson has the ship pointed in the right direction.