Above photo of Payton Brooks from acusports.com
BELTON, Texas- It is hard to think of a more talented incoming recruiting class for the UMHB men’s basketball team than this year’s incoming class, which features six transfers.
One of those transfers is Payton Brooks, who announced his decision to join the Cru on May 21 from Div. I Abilene Christian University, where the guard spent one year during the 2020-21 season.
A high-profile transfer, Brooks is expected to compete for immediate playing time on the stacked roster, and brings plenty of talent to Belton.
We caught up with Brooks to discuss his decision to transfer to UMHB, his experience being part of a tournament run in March Madness with ACU, and more in this edition of “Catching up with the Commits”.
As you were going through the transfer process, with several offers on the table, what made UMHB the program for you?
PB: “I went through the transfer portal after our season, and I heard about UMHB and Coach Nixon got in contact with me. We started talking, and I ended up going on a visit. I didn’t commit that day, of course, but gave it some thought. I was really close to going to Hardin-Simmons. But I chose UMHB because their culture is really special, they win a lot and I wanted to go to a place where they were already established.”
You were part of last season’s Abilene Christian team that upset No. 3 seed Texas in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. What was it like to be part of that run?
PB: “The whole experience was great. It’s what everyone kind of thinks of when they think of college basketball. To just be there and experience all the little things, like seeing other teams in the hotel, was pretty cool. Being a No. 14 seed was fine, as long as we were in it, but a lot of the other teams were big-name schools and we’re over here, little Ol’ Abilene Christian. We kind of took that on as a challenge, and did what we did. It was fun.”
Coming out of high school as you prepared to make the transition to the college level, was there anything specific that you focused on?
PB: “Out of high school, I really tried to focus on getting my shot quicker. I also wanted to be in the best shape that I could because I knew the game was going to be a lot faster than high school. Guys [at the college level] were going to be stronger, more physical.”
With an 11-man recruiting class and four starters from last season expected to return, there will be competition for playing time. What is your mentality entering the season, as you are aware of that?
PB: “I’m just going to do me. They know who they recruited. They know what they wanted me for. So I’m going to come in, show them what they wanted, and be myself.”
Do you have any goals, whether those be short-term or long-term, for your time at UMHB?
PB: “I’m definitely looking forward to establishing strong relationships with the other guys on the team. That is always a big thing whenever you’re playing. If you have a strong relationship with the guy next to you, it just going to make us that much better. And then, of course, win a national championship. That is one of the main reasons I came to UMHB, because they win.”
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