X Factors: Loyola Marymount’s Evan Payne


By Mary Harvill, exclusive for West Coast Convo

Important and prolific is the assignment for Evan Payne and LMU basketball this season. Payne is a rainmaker with his consistent baskets and if the 2013-2014 campaign is any indication, LMU will not find itself in scoring deficits against their opponents if Evan is on the court.

A team that is especially good in what former Coach Max Good termed “offensive defense”, LMU will be skillful in forcing turnovers which means points on the board with Payne’s capable scoring. The question mark this season is what approach new Coach (both to the WCC and LMU) Mike Dunlap will take with this team. Their trip to Spain over the summer was a great experience in bringing the group together and getting them to learn to rely on one another.

Painfully short of seasoned veterans and the loss of sensational point guard Anthony Ireland, Evan’s poise, WCC experience and leadership skills will be the X Factor for the team on the floor. Evan’s very capable sophomore shoulders should rise to the challenge and responsibility this will entail.

Sporting a roster with players from countries better known at the United Nations than in WCC cities, Payne will share the floor with returning teammates Marin Mornar, (Zagreb, Croatia), Ayodeji Egbeyemi and Godwin Okonji (both from Lagos, Nigeria). A full complement of new faces to the program include junior college transfers Connor Jean and Matt Hayes with community college transfer David Humphries and Sherman Vernon joining LMU from the Air Force. Transfer Steven Haney hails from Central Florida. Wonder if he stopped by Florida Gold Coast University on his way to California?

The LMU roster has two freshman from the Canarias Basketball Academy, Simon Krajcovic, a Slovakian and Petr Herman, from the Czech Republic. Pregame meal planning might get a bit complicated.

This program will be interesting to watch as the season begins and along the way as Coach Dunlap and his players finding their groove in the WCC. At the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic tournament in Hawaii in December, LMU will share the floor with Colorado, DePaul, George Washington, Hawaii, Nebraska, Ohio University and/or Wichita State.

LMU’s regular season WCC performance this year will be almost as much of a mystery as Pacific’s conference debut last season. The X Factor in Evan Payne is the closest clue we will have to gauging the team’s performance which this season may be better described as an Unsolved Mystery.