Murray State sophomore point guard Cameron Payne
was named as the Ohio Valley Conference Male Athlete of the Year for 2014-15 in voting by the league's athletics directors and sports information directors.
Payne will be honored at the OVC's annual Honors Brunch on May 29 in Nashville. The OVC Female Athlete of the Year award will be announced tomorrow (May 22).
His award marks the 39th time the OVC has handed out a top athlete award since it began in 1977. This is the third time in the last five years that the OVC Male Athlete of the Year has gone to a men's basketball player.
As he continues to prepare for the NBA Draft (June 25), Payne becomes the ninth Murray State student-athlete to win the OVC honor and the first since Isaiah Canaan in 2012. All of MSU's OVC Male winners have been from basketball. The first was Gary Hooker in 1980. Jeff Martin
and Popeye Jones followed with back-to-back awards in 1988-89 and 1991-92. Marcus Brown was honored with the award in 1995 and De'Teri Mayes won the award in 1998.
Payne, out of Memphis, Tennessee, followed up his freshman season with a tremendous sophomore season that saw him help the Racers to their 24th
OVC regular season championship. Along the way, the Racers became the first at MSU and the fifth in the OVC to go through the league season undefeated at 16-0. MSU also had the nation's second-longest win streak with 25 as they went through all of December, January and February. Payne helped the Racers win their first games in the National Invitation Tournament since 1980 as they advanced to one win from going to the semifinals in New York City.
The OVC Player of the Year award went to Payne as he averaged 20.2 points and 6.0 assists per game for a national ranking of 13 and 15. He arrived at 1,000 career points in only 57 games, the second-fastest in school history. In his two seasons at MSU, Payne helped the Racers go 52-17 (.753) overall and 29-3 (.906) in the OVC.
Following the season he was named a third-team All-American by CBSSports.com, an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press and the Lute Olson National Player of the Year by CollegeInsider.com. A projected first round selection, Payne then declared for the NBA Draft, becoming the first sophomore and just the fourth player from the OVC to declare for the draft early. OVC Male Athlete of the Year award2015 Nominees
Alex Arovin, Jr., Tennessee Tech, Tennis
Brendon Caballero, Sr., UT Martin, Golf
Matt Beaty, Sr., Belmont, Baseball
Max Holcombe, Sr., Jacksonville State, Football
Norvel Mohammed, Jr., Eastern Illinois, Track*Cameron Payne, So., Murray State, Basketball
Dimitar Ristovski, Sr., Austin Peay, Tennis
Chris Robinson, Sr., Morehead State, Baseball
Blake Smith, Sr., Southeast Missouri State, Track
Nick Thrasher, Sr., Tennessee State, Football
Corey Walden, Sr., Eastern Kentucky Basketball OVC Male Athlete of the Year awardMurray State Winners
1980 - Gary Hooker
1988 - Jeffery Martin Sr.
1989 - Jeffery Martin Sr.
1991 - Popeye Jones
1992 - Popeye Jones
1995 - Marcus Brown
1998 - De'Teri Mayes
2012 - Isaiah Canaan2015 – Cameron Payne