BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington High School senior standout Chris Payton has left the BHS basketball team, coach Micheal Mosley said Thursday.
The 6-foot-7 Payton, a Southern Illinois recruit, cited "personal reasons" for his departure, Mosley said.
"Due to personal reasons, Chris will no longer be a member of the BHS basketball team," Mosley said. "How he described it was he wanted to deal with some personal issues."
Efforts to reach Payton were unsuccessful.
Payton had been held out of three games by Mosley for disciplinary reasons since Jan. 11 and also did not start in the Purple Raiders' Jan. 25 loss to Normal Community. He came off the bench in that game and had a team-high 15 points.
Payton was averaging 22.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game prior to being benched for a Jan. 11 home game against Urbana. He also did not play against Decatur MacArthur on Saturday and at Metamora on Tuesday.
“With my team, I'm always trying to get everybody on the team to be accountable," Mosley said. "I've sat guys numerous times this season.
“It’s about teamship and the guys who are here ... just appreciate the opportunity. I'm going to focus on the 13 guys who are still on my team.”
Payton was an all-tournament selection at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament in December as the Raiders took fourth place. Earlier this season, he had 38 points and 13 rebounds in a loss to state-ranked Danville, and posted 31 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in a win over St. Louis Chaminade at the Chicago Elite Classic.
Southern Illinois signed Payton to a national letter of intent on Nov. 21, the final day of the November signing period. He had committed to Illinois State in August 2017, but reopened his recruitment in January 2018.
The 220-pounder was a second-team all-state selection and first-team all-Pantagraph Area pick as a junior, averaging 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
The previous year, he was a force in the Raiders' run to third place in the Class 3A State Tournament. He averaged 17.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in two state tournament games at Peoria's Carver Arena.
Payton's departure comes nearly three years after his brother, Charles, left the team at BHS. A junior at the time, Charles Payton transferred to Olympia, where he played his senior season.
BHS has a 15-9 record and a 4-4 Big 12 Conference mark. The Purple Raiders play Hazelwood (Mo.) Central at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Vashon Winter Classic at St. Louis Vashon High School.