Chris Payton was in the weight room Tuesday morning. Then he was in the gym.
Forget that the calendar read “July 3.” This is basketball season for Bloomington High School’s talented senior-to-be.
July is a huge month on the AAU circuit, with college coaches flooding tournaments in search of recruits. Payton, a forward, is still available and looking to secure more options/offers.
“I’m still in the process,” he said. “It really depends on how July plays out … kind of how I play and what schools are in on me and which ones are serious after July. I don’t want to say I’m looking toward anything too strongly at this point. After July, I can probably give a more accurate answer.”
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds last season, Payton said he is closer to 6-7 and 220 now. After orally committing to Illinois State in August 2017, he changed his mind and reopened his recruitment in January.
The decision came in the midst of a junior season in which he averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds while earning second-team Class 3A all-state honors and repeating as a first-team Pantagraph All-Area pick.
Payton received a scholarship offer last week from Valparaiso after attending an Elite Camp there. BHS coach Micheal Mosley also said Michigan State has contacted him regarding Payton after the Purple Raiders played in a team camp there in June.
“For the most part it has been good,” Payton said of reopening his recruiting. “ISU is still showing a lot of interest. The team shows me a bunch of love when I go to campus. I think it was a good decision, but I still have a lot of love for ISU.
“Loyalty is a big thing I value and they’ve done everything they can to showcase that, from every member of the coaching staff to the players to the managers. Everybody has shown me a lot of love the last couple of months. They did their part in recruiting and they haven’t left my side.”
Payton received an offer from Illinois coach Brad Underwood in June 2017, but committed to Illinois State shortly thereafter. The three-star recruit said Tuesday he got a letter from the Illini recently, but added, “Other than that, I haven’t received too much from them.”
Payton welcomed the offer from Valparaiso, a Missouri Valley Conference school he saw play ISU last season at Redbird Arena.
“Their coaches seem like pretty genuine guys,” he said. “For the most part I liked everything they said. It was a pretty good campus. I liked everything about it.”
Payton is hoping to boost his stock this month in tournaments the final three weekends with his Meanstreets AAU team. That’s why a steamy July morning was spent in the weight room and gym.
BHS has completed its summer regimen of tournaments and team camps to clear the way for AAU competition. Payton’s plan is to have his body and game in top shape.
“I’ve been lifting and doing cardio and working on my ballhandling,” he said. “I’ve been in the gym a lot. I feel like I’m excited for what I’m going to produce here in July.”
There are few certainties in recruiting, a fluid world of prospects and potential. When Payton decided to decommit from Illinois State, he said he was “curious” to find out what other opportunities might be out there.
This month could lead to some of those. Or, perhaps, it will lead him back through the door he closed in January.
That wouldn’t be bad for Payton or ISU.