Former Florida Gator Omar Payne announces his intention to transfer to Jacksonville University

Garry Smits
Florida Times-Union
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Omar Payne (left) defends Michigan State's Max Christie in a game in February at Michigan State. Payne, who played for Illinois last year and for Florida two years before that, has announced his intention to transfer to Jacksonville University.

Omar Payne has played for two colleges with orange as the dominant color.

Maybe his fortunes will change with the wearing of the Jacksonville University green.

Payne, a 6-foot-10 shot-blocking specialist who was one of the gems of former UF coach Mike White's 2019 recruiting class, announced on his Instagram page on Wednesday that he will transfer from Illinois to JU for the upcoming season.

Payne averaged 1.8 points and 1.7 rebounds in 32 games for the Illini last season, with 24 blocked shots.

He averaged 3.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots in 54 games for the Gators in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Payne was 10th in the SEC in blocks as a sophomore and led the Gators with a .750 shooting percentage.

Jacksonville University officials won't comment directly until Payne's transfer paperwork has been finalized by the compliance office but assitant athletic director for communications Scott Manze did confirm the school has been recruiting Payne.

If everything is finalized, Payne would be another major addition to Jordan Mincy's team and the second former UF big man to transfer to play for the Dolphins. Osayi Osifo (6-8) averaged 7.8 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Dolphins last season and Mike Marsh (6-10), a junior college transfer, averaged 8.7 points and 5.4 rebounds.

Omar Payne had 65 blocked shots in 54 games for the Florida Gators in his first two college seasons.

Combined with returning senior Bryce Workman (9.8 points, 5.6 rebounds) Mincy potentially has a lethal combination of size and experience along the frontcourt to go with guards Kevion Nolan, Jordan Davis, Tommy Bruner and Gyasi Powell.

JU currently is losing only two players through the transfer portal, small forward Tyreese Davis and guard Rod Brown.

Mincy led the Dolphins to a 21-10 record, the second-most by a first-year JU coach and one of five mid-major coaches to reach the 20-victory mark in their first season. He received the Joe B. Hall Award by the National Basketball Coaches Association as the top first-year coach in NCAA Division I.

JU won 20 or more games for the first time since 2010-11 and matched the highest single-season victory total since 1971-72.  The Dolphins were 15-0 at home, the first time since 1972-73 they was unbeaten at home and it set a record for the most home victories. Jacksonville reached the ASUN championship game for the first time since 2009. 

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