Men’s basketball looks to bounce back
Winn and Payne will be joining the Vikings, who won the 2016 Great Northwest Athletic Conference title with a 17-3 record.
Head coach Tony Dominguez said he recruited Winn and Payne not only for their skill and versatility, but for their excitement to be a part of Western’s program.
“They can be starters if they need to be starters and they can be role guys if they need to be role guys,” Dominguez said. “They have the ability to do both and they have the mindsets.”
Dominguez said because Winn and Payne are upperclassmen, they have a good perspective on being team players.
Winn was named Cerritos’ Most Valuable Player and earned First Team All-South Coast Conference honors twice during his junior college career. He ended his career at Cerritos averaging 12.3 points per game, after appearing in 57 games and making 33 starts.
“Micah [Winn] is a very gifted scorer with a lot of toughness and athleticism.,” Dominguez said. “[He] is a very versatile player and can play in multiple spots.”
Winn, who is from Los Angeles, is honored to be given the chance to be part of Western’s program.
“For me, to be in that situation — to be recruited by a great coach in a great program — I just want to go make the best of it and have a definite impact,” Winn said. “Hopefully, not only myself, but the team, the community and for everyone to just be hyped for Western basketball and win it all. I’m very hungry and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Payne, from Long Beach, California, was named First Team All-South Coast Conference South division. He averaged 7.7 points, 2.8 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game during his career at Cerritos, appearing in 57 games while making 42 starts.
“Tyler [Payne] is an older player that brings a lot of leadership,” Dominguez said. “He’s a point guard, so we’re excited about him being able to use his point guard skills as far as leading the team, making open shots and getting everyone involved. And he’s exceptional at that.”
Payne was immediately drawn into Western’s basketball program when he first visited Bellingham with Winn.
“They brought us in and treated us like we’ve been a part of the program already for some years,” Payne said. “They’re genuine and everybody is nice. It’s going to be fun playing with them.”
After Western lost all-time leading scorer Jeffrey Parker, and GNAC Player of the Year Taylor Stafford, who both graduated in the spring, Winn and Payne are determined to fill in and do whatever it takes to win another championship.
“I want to be able to go as far as possible,” Winn said. “To win everything, go to regionals, go to nationals and make some noise.”
Payne wants the Vikings to be ready for some fun and exciting games for the next two years.
“I want to be able to come in and do whatever the coach asks of me so we can be successful going into ball games,” Payne said. “I just want to win and do whatever it takes to win the most games this season. I’m all for it.”
The Vikings will be opening the 2017-18 season hosting the PacWest/GNAC Conference Challenge at Sam Carver Gymnasium on Nov. 10.