GREENVILLE, N.C. – Former Hickory High School standout Jada Payne has completed a grant-in-aid agreement to attend East Carolina and play basketball for the Pirates beginning with the 2012-13 campaign, according to an announcement Wednesday by head coach Heather Macy.
Payne, a 6-2 combo guard and wing player, will sit out the upcoming season due to NCAA rules regarding transfer students and will have three years of eligibility remaining with ECU.
“I am pleased to be able to welcome Jada Payne back to her home state,” Macy said. “She is an impact player and will certainly raise the competitive level of the program. Jada really fits the mold of the type of player we want at East Carolina.”
Payne returns to the state after playing her freshman campaign at La Salle University, where she earned 2012 Atlantic 10 All-Freshman Team honors by averaging 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest and knocking down a team second-best 42 three-point field goals. She appeared in all 31 games, starting the first 26, and was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week twice. Payne was the team’s high scorer in five contests, netting 15 points in her collegiate debut against Lehigh. She followed that effort with a 16-point performance at Albany, earning her first A-10 Rookie honor as a result.
“I am excited to join the Pirate Nation,” Payne stated. “East Carolina has everything I was looking for in terms of academic excellence and a great athletic program.”
Proving a consistent scorer throughout the season, Payne produced a four-game double-digit scoring streak from Jan. 14-28, averaging 15.8 points per game over that stretch. One of her best efforts of the campaign occurred against future Conference USA rival Charlotte where she poured in a game-high 18 points to go along with eight rebounds. Payne then dropped in 24 points at Richmond in the next contest to garner her second weekly A-10 Rookie accolade. She ended the campaign on a strong note, scoring 13 points in the Explorers’ Atlantic 10 Championship first round win over Xavier.
During her prep career, Payne led Hickory High School to a 28-3 record and the North Carolina 3A state finals in 2010-11. She was one of the top players on a squad that won the Northwestern 3A-4A and West 3A Regional championships and was named the West 3A Regional Most Valuable Player. Payne was also named the West MVP at the state finals. She earned Hickory Daily Record All-Greater Hickory Girls' Player of the Year honors and was also tabbed to the Associated Press All-State Team. She was the first Hickory female player to be invited to play in the North Carolina East-West All-Star game in eight years and was a 2011 McDonald's All-American nominee.
Payne led the squad to the conference regular season title as a sophomore and both the regular season and tournament title as a junior, as well as the sectional finals in both seasons. As a junior, she averaged 20 points and seven rebounds per game, along with five steals and four assists. She was named all-conference, First Team All-District and Second Team All-Region in 2009-10.