Callisburg's Payne signs with Southwestern College

After helping lead her team to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, Callisburg’s Kennedy Payne capped off her terrific senior season by signing her national letter of intent to play at Southwestern College in Kansas.

While the basketball program was big draw for her, she also chose Southwestern because of what she wants to pursue professionally.

“But I was kind of drawn to Southwestern just because, first they had marine biology, which is the major I want to be in the field. I want to be scuba diving, doing research,” Payne said.

Payne had her official visit earlier this year and she said her first interaction with the team went extremely well.

“I was recruited by the coach, so they already knew they were going to give me a scholarship before I went and visited,” Payne said. “When I went up there, they were having an open gym. So I just went ahead and played with the whole team. They said that they were looking for a shooter to play right off the bat. So they said that’s what they’re looking for and they found it.”

Payne said she is confident she will succeed at Southwestern.

“From the past couple years, in my opinion, I’ve just gotten better each year,” Payne said. “And that comes from a lot of hard work and I think I’m just going to keep doing that.”

Payne said she seriously considered the idea of playing college basketball her senior season, but now that she has signed, she is beyond excited.

“I didn’t decide I wanted to play until I think maybe the beginning of my senior year and I hadn’t decided where I wanted to go to college,” Payne said. “I took a lot of time to think about it and once we got into our season, I kind of thought that I just love the sport too much not to keep playing for a little bit longer.”

Playing on a new team is one of the things Payne can’t wait to experience.

“I’m looking forward to having a team I guess because I just love team sports,” Payne said. “I love basketball and volleyball. I love them all. And it’s all different. I do track too, but it’s a little bit because it’s those are like individual sports. And I just love having a team. I guess that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.”

Her high school coach and father Robert Payne said coaching her in her final season was something he will never forget.

“It’s always fun to coach your kid,” Payne said. “It’s a lot of fun. She’s a hard worker, so I’m going to miss her a lot, not just because she can score but because of her leadership, passing court vision and stuff like that. Coaching your kid is sometimes good and sometimes it’s not. It’s good, I guess I could be a little bit harder on her, but I get to spend time with her.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip