Photo by Chris Todd

By Robert Wilson

       Raymond High boys basketball team has been to the state championship game an incredible seven consecutive years, winning three titles along the way.

       Eric Paymon, Raymond’s 6-foot-9 senior center, wants to make it eight straight for the Rangers.

       He did his part last week as Raymond finished their regular season in a big way.

       Paymon averaged 26.5 points, 10 rebounds and led Raymond to two MHSAA Class 4A, Region 6 victories to clinch the No. 1 region seed last week.

       For his outstanding performance, Paymon has been named the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Boys Basketball Player of the Week.

       Paymon had 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots in a 69-51 victory over McComb and had career-high 36 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists in a 66-57 victory over Lanier last week.

       “EJ (Paymon’s nickname) had a big week for us as he had back to back double doubles to help us clinch the number 1 seed going into the district tournament,” Raymond coach Tony Tadlock said. “He’s a gym rat. After both of those games, he’s looking for ways to improve his game and take it to the next level.”

        Paymon – the No. 1 ranked player in Mississippi in the Class of 2024 by ESPN – is averaging 23.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3 blocked shots for the season going into this week’s region tournament at Richland.

       This is the second time Paymon has received the Player of the Week award. He won it in late December.

Paymon had 15 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocked shots and 3 assists against previously undefeated Canton and their star, 6-8 Jamarion Fleming, for a 46-35 victory in the BASSA Holiday Classic at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum in Clinton. He also had 14 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots for Raymond in a 52-41 victory over Warren Central.

       Paymon has Division I offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Texas Christian University, New Mexico State, Oral Roberts, Georgia State, and Morehead State.

Paymon averaged 22.1 points and 10.3 rebounds and helped Raymond to a 27-7 record and a MHSAA Class 4A runner-up finish and made first team All-Metro Jackson last season as a junior.

       He was named the Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 4A State Player of the Year last season. 

“EJ is not your typical No. 1 player in the state in that he looks to get his teammates involved as much as he likes to score,” Tadlock said. “His work ethic is what sets him apart as he is often the first in the gym and the last one to leave. EJ is a high character, super coachable kid.”

Paymon is the son of Eric and Kimberly Paymon. Eric played basketball for two years at Provine High and two years at Forest Hill High. He graduated from Hinds Community College. Kimberly graduated from Forest Hill and Hinds CC.

       Eric has one sister, Eriel Paymon, who was a cheerleader at Murrah High, graduated from the University of Memphis and is now in her second year as a dancer for the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA.

         Both of Eric’s grandfathers played high school basketball. Harwell Paymon (Eric’s father) played at Jim Hill and Jessie Jordan (Kimberly’s father) played at Murrah.

       Raymond, 25-4, plays McComb Friday at 8:30 p.m. in the semifinals of the region tournament at Richland. 

Mississippi Scoreboard selects a boys basketball player from Hinds, Madison, or Rankin counties each week. Coaches can nominate a player by text or call to Robert Wilson at 601.506.2276. 

Previous Players of the Week

Week One: Mike Williams, Jackson Academy

Week Two: Dylan Rowe, Madison Central

Week Three: Eric Paymon, Raymond

Week Four: Ashton Magee, MRA

Week Five: Morris Hammond, Ridgeland

Week Six: Michael Wallace, McLaurin

Week Seven: Mason Williams, Jackson Academy

Week Eight: Avery Thomas, Terry