Auburn Hoops Signee Discusses Coaching Change

Auburn early men's basketball signee Allen Payne gives his initial impressions of Coach Tony Barbee.

Cincinnati, Ohio--Auburn signee Allen Payne said his first impression of Auburn's new head basketball coach Tony Barbee is a positive one.

The six-foot-seven forward from Winton Woods High School signed with the Tigers in November when Jeff Lebo was head coach. Lebo was fired and replaced by UTEP head coach Tony Barbee.

Payne averaged 17 points and six rebounds per game helping his team post a 17-3 record as a senior.

"I talked to Coach Barbee once last week and he sounds like a really cool coach," Payne tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I think he is a players' coach. He is young, around 38 or 39 years old, and he can relate to players our age.

"Our conversation was brief, but I got a real good feel for him," notes Payne, who says he is planning to follow through with his commitment to play for Auburn.

"It is looking like right now that I will be playing for him," Payne says. "We still haven't had a chance to sit down and talk. He hasn't made it to Cincinnati yet."

Payne, who was named his conference's player of the year, says he wishes his team had gone deeper into the playoffs. "Different people said I played pretty good, but we didn't finish the season the way we wanted. We got upset in the second round of the playoffs. It was a good season, but by our team's standards it wasn't the way we wanted to finish."

Commenting on his personal performance, he says, "I thought I played well, but anything I did I would trade in for the chance to play deeper into March because that is what it is all about."

Payne was named first team All-City, first team All-District and first team All-Southwest Ohio as well as second team All-State as a senior.

"When I talked to Coach Barbee, he said he had never seen me play," Payne notes. "He asked what kind of game I have and I told him that I am a versatile forward who can do a lot of things. He said that would fit perfectly in his style of play. I am looking forward to getting to know him better."

Coach Tony Barbee

Barbee's teams are known for an up-tempo pace. "I think that is perfect for me because I like to get out and do a lot of my damage in transition," Payne points out.

Payne signed with the Tigers over offers from VCU, Oklahoma State, Dayton, St. Joe's, Penn State, Western Kentucky, Akron and others.

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