McPherson High senior basketball standout Payton Stephens revealed on Twitter today that he’s going to attend Stephen F. Austin University in the upcoming fall.
“Proud to announce that I will be continuing my basketball career at Stephen F. Austin!! I can’t wait to be a Lumberjack!” Stephens tweeted.
With that, Stephens will be joining former Bullpup Brad Underwood, who has coached the Lumberjacks to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. The ‘Jacks advanced to the second round in 2014 and were ousted in the first round this year.
McPherson High coach Kurt Kinnamon confirmed Stephens’ intentions, noting he has a chance to earn a full scholarship as he’s starting his freshman year as a preferred walk-on, which is a common practice at many schools.
“It is exciting to be a preferred walk-on,” Kinnamon said. “Payton will have the opportunity to work to gain a scholarship. I am certain that he has the skills and the determination to be very successful at SFA. Coach Underwood has been in contact with him for a long time and I am confident it will be a good fit for Payton.”
The 6-4 forward transferred from Manhattan to McPherson after his junior season. He goes into the record books having never lost a basketball game in his Bullpup career as he played a major role in MHS going 25-0 for its second straight state championship and 13th overall. He earned numerous postseason AVCTL and All-State honors.
He was the leading scorer in the Class 4A Division I State Tournament and was immense in the championship game with 24 points.
Stephens averaged 16 points a game during the season.
In addition to his basketball prowess, Stephens played for the state-playoff Bullpup football team and developed into one of the top receivers in Class 4A. Ironically, he had not played football his previous two years at Manhattan, but made several spectacular catches on throws by quarterback Kyler Kinnamon, who also threw a few lob passes for dunks during the basketball season.