Former Florida Gators F Omar Payne to Transfer to Illinois

The first former Florida Gators basketball player to enter the NCAA transfer portal this offseason has found a new home.
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One of numerous Florida Gators to announce his departure from the program since its second-round exit from the 2021 NCAA Tournament, forward Omar Payne has announced his next team will be the Fighting Illini. Payne intends to transfer to Illinois, he announced on Twitter on Saturday.

"I am excited for my next step at the University of Illinois," Payne wrote.

Payne entered the NCAA transfer portal on Friday, quickly finding a new home in the Big 10 Conference after two seasons with the Gators. In 54 appearances, making 15 starts, Payne averaged 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game on an average of 15.4 minutes per contest, shooting 66.7 percent from the field.

Although he made some big contributions to the Gators during his UF career, Payne may be best remembered for his flagrant 2 found against Tennessee's John Fulkerson in the SEC Tournament this past March. Fulkerson suffered a facial fracture after Payne threw an elbow his way in the paint during the Gators' 78-to-66 loss to the Volunteers, which led Payne to a second-half ejection and being held out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Payne joined guards Tre Mann, Noah Locke, Scottie Lewis and Ques Glover, as well as forwards Osayi Osifo and Colin Castleton, to announce their decision to potentially move on from UF. Mann, Lewis, and Castleton entered the NBA Draft, although Castleton has kept the door open for a return to the team. Payne, Glover, Osifo, and Locke entered the NCAA transfer portal.

Florida welcomed UMKC guard Brandon McKissic and Boston College forward CJ Felder to the program via the transfer portal on Friday.