Colfax-Mingo senior Payton Rhone knew she wanted to play collegiate basketball in sixth grade playing on her mother’s team.
This past spring, Rhone started feeling like playing at the next level was a reality when Central College reached out to her about playing for the Lady Dutch next season.
After a two-day overnight camp in the spring and an official visit in July, Rhone made the decision to play for Central and made things official with a national letter of intent on Monday.
“Central was the first school to reach out to me,” Rhone said. “They were looking for shooters and thought I would be a good asset to the team. I like that it’s close to home and it’s a small school. I really loved it there when I visited in July.”
Central College ended up being the pick for Rhone, but Simpson College and Buena Vista University came into the mix late in the process.
In this instance, being first won out for Central, head coach Joe Steinkamp and assistant coach Amy Briggs, who Rhone said was the first college coach to contact her.
The Lady Dutch are currently 2-7 after going 7-18 last season and 9-16 the season before.
Steinkamp took over the women’s program in 2017 after a successful nine-year run with the Dutch men’s program. The roster this season includes just one senior and 18 freshmen and sophomores.
“They lost their best shooter last year. They are struggling right now,” Rhone said about this year’s Central team. “They want to be a 3-point shooting team, but are struggling to find someone to replace the girl they lost.”
Rhone fits in with any team who wants to shoot the ball from outside. She made 67 3-pointers as a junior, 41 as a sophomore and 18 as a freshman at Colfax-Mingo.
Rhone’s points per game has improved each season. She scored 4.6 points per game as a freshman, 7.1 as a sophomore and 12.5 last year.
Through four games in 2018-19, Rhone is averaging 16.3 points per game and has made 11 3-pointers.
Rhone has scored 598 career points through four games of her senior season. She also has made 137 career 3-pointers.
She opened her final season with back-to-back 20-plus point games. The best game of her career came last season when she scored 30 points and hit eight 3-pointers in a win over HLV.
The game before that, Rhone scored 23 points and buried seven 3-pointers. She has scored at least 20 points in a game six times.
Her game has expanded much beyond just 3-point shooting this season. She is taking the ball to the basket more and becoming a better all-around player.
Before she gets to Central, she wants to continue working on shooting off the dribble.
“Coach Steinkamp told me that the college game is a lot faster pace,” Rhone said. “He told me that I need to find ways to get the basket and get fouled.”
Rhone is playing for her third head coach in four years this season. Jeff Clemens is in the role now, and he is trying to help prepare Rhone for the next level.
“I really want to do well my senior year so it’s a relief this is taken care of and now we can focus on the season,” Rhone said. “The goal is always to do better than last year. Hopefully we’ll get some more wins, too.”
Rhone is unsure of what she will major in but said she will “probably start with sociology.”