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Michigan State's Payne improving on and off court

Wednesday - 3/27/2013, 1:27pm  ET

Michigan State guard Gary Harris, from left, forward Adreian Payne (5), and Keith Appling watch the final moments from the bench against Memphis in the second half of their third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Auburn Hills, Mich., Saturday March 23, 2013. Michigan State won 70-48. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State's Adreian Payne has shown more flashes of his vast potential to boost his stock as an NBA prospect.

At least two teams in the league had top executives witness Payne's latest performance. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward had 14 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high five blocks to help the Spartans beat Memphis to reach the round of 16.

Payne may be a pivotal player when third-seeded Michigan State faces second-seeded Duke on Friday night in Indianapolis.

His improved play has been impressive and yet it pales in comparison to his off-the-court story.

Payne has befriended a 7-year-old girl during her bout with cancer. And, he's a scholar-athlete honoree after being diagnosed as cognitively disabled while growing up in Jefferson Township, Ohio.

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