Georgia Southwestern State University has hired Justin Payne as its new head women’s basketball coach, Director of Athletics Mike Leeder announced Monday afternoon.
Payne recently completed his eighth season as an assistant women’s basketball coach and 10th year overall under head coach DoBee Plaisance at NCAA Division I Nicholls State University.
“I want to thank all of the people who were a part of this process,” Payne said. “One thing that was really exciting about when I came on campus a week ago was the family atmosphere from all the coaches, from the administration. It was amazing. It was something similar to what we had at Nicholls. We know with that family atmosphere what you can do.”
Nicholls State finished with a record of 20-12 last season, 14-4 in the Southland Conference and earned a trip to the Women’s Basketball Invitational postseason tournament. In 2017-18, the Colonels won the Southland Conference Tournament as a No. 4 seed to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
“One of the things I wanted to find in a new coach was someone who was not afraid of a challenge,” Leeder said. “I wanted somebody that had been part of a turnaround. The third thing, and maybe the most important, was the ability to recruit. Justin’s track record of recruiting at Nicholls State had me very comfortable in what we explained to him that we had in our women’s program. He has been very successful and will excel within our geographic footprint.”
Payne, a product of Opelousas, La., was a three-year starter at point guard for Nicholls State, and lettered four seasons from 2005-06 to 2008-09. He led the Colonels to a 20-11 record in 2008-09. He led the team for three seasons in assists, tallying a total of 329 assists in his career which ranks sixth in program history. Payne started 89 games and played in 111 during his collegiate career.
He brings that same competitiveness over to coaching.
“I expect energy and effort,” Payne said. “Non-negotiable. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to be fun to watch. People are going to be excited to watch GSW women’s basketball.”
Georgia Southwestern President Dr. Neal Weaver agrees with Payne regarding what lies ahead for the program.
“I think the players will have a great time getting to know Coach and being a part of his program,” Weaver said. “Our campus and the community of Americus, and the southwest region of Georgia will be thrilled and excited about what Coach Payne will be bringing to Georgia Southwestern. I look forward to watching the great things that are about to happen with our women’s basketball program.”
“This is an exciting time to be at Georgia Southwestern,” Payne said. “We’re on an upward trajectory.”
Payne and his wife, Ravae’, have a 1-year-old son, Joshua.