Payton Dastrup is a 6-foot-10, 225-pound junior post who attends Mesa Mountain View High School. In my opinion, Payton is the best big man in Arizona, regardless of class. He has the skill level of a true post player with a left or right hand hook inside the paint, but what separates himself with other big men, is his shooting touch out to the 3-point stripe. He also is an excellent passer out of the double-team and an amazing rebounder. He still has potential left; only being a junior.
Dastrup will play at a high-major division-I program and will improve each year. When college is over, I would be surprised if he didn’t play professionally one day somewhere in the world.
Here is a conversation he had with Arizona Preps (AP) ...
AP: Tell me about your family.
Payton: My dad is David and my mom is Kristen. I also have 2 younger sisters. Sidney is 12 and Kennedy is 9.
AP: Why did you start playing basketball?
Payton: Actually when I was younger, I was really into football and I was playing Pop-Warner. The year I wanted to start football, I was too big for the league, so some of the kids on my football team were at my junior high, and actually on Mountain View HS team right now, and invited me to play with them in a YMCA league. I just picked it up from there and I haven’t stopped ever since.
AP: When was your 1st dunk ever?
Payton: My first dunk ever was in warm-ups with the YMCA Jr. Suns team in 8th grade.
AP: First time you knew you were good?
Payton: When Coach (Gary) Ernst put me on the varsity team when I was a sophomore. I was only the 5th person ever for such a storied program to be on varsity as a sophomore. Kind of humbled me and made me realize that I can go far in this sport.
AP: What would be a weakness you want to improve before you play college?
Payton: Being physical in the post on offense and getting more free-throw attempts per game. Going to the defender and drawing contact.
AP: Tell me about your recruiting process? Is it stressful, fun, do you like the attention or is it just something you have to go through?
Payton: At the beginning of the process it was interesting to see who offers you. In April I got a lot of early attention from the coaches and then I got my ranking and it was unbelievable. Then it picked up more and more. It’s been interesting to see what coaches say and who calls and sends letters. Then it died off a bit, but now I have been getting a lot of letters in the mail. I’m getting used to getting letters from coaches now.
AP: What colleges have given you official offers?
Payton: I have 15 official offers. I can remember most of my offers. There is BYU, Utah, Utah State, UC Davis, ASU, Arizona, USC, Oregon State, Texas A&M, Florida, Boston College and Virginia.
AP: What are the colleges that have high interest in you?
Payton: Colorado, Notre Dame, Cal and Stanford. I have a lot of letters and calls from these schools. Those schools came to Mountain View during the early period to watch me play.
AP: Are you hoping for the schools that have high interest in you, to give you an official offer?
Payton: Yes, because you never know what could happen. It will give me more options. If they do offer me, I can see if that college would be a better fit for me, compared to the schools that already offered me. I always want to work hard and possibly have the opportunity to get more offers.
AP: Do you have a pre-game meal?
Payton: Not a designated one. Today I had an egg salad sandwich that my grandma made, but usually the night before I have some kind of pasta or a good protein meal.
AP: Do you actually have a favorite food?
Payton: I love burgers! I’m always eating burgers.
AP: Do you have a favorite video game?
AP: If you're not playing basketball, what are you doing?
Payton: I like to play volleyball and I played volleyball for the school. I play the piano. I’m in the choir at school, and I like to sleep as much as possible. And like I said before, I used to play football, so I am kind of an all-around guy.
AP: What is your ultimate goal for your team? And then what is your personal goal?
Payton: I think that our overall goal for the team is to develop. We knew it was going to be a challenge coming into the year. Not to point any fingers, but even our coaches have said that the guards on the team are the weak point of the team. We just need to have good solid practices. We can’t encourage other teams to pressure us, but it will only get us better for later in the season. So, overall, our main goal is to make the playoffs and to make a run and get to state. But right now, it is to build up a solid win streak. Then get our feet under us and make a run, so we can solidify ourselves as a powerhouse team, and just go from there. Then my personal goal is to average 8-12 free-throw attempts per game, and average around 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.
AP: What do you think will take to win it all?
Payton: Consistent play all around. Making smart plays and not forcing passes. Coach Ernst preaches to give me the ball, because when I get the ball, good things happen for our team. Either I go make a strong move or I get double-teamd and kick it out to an open shooter for a good percentage shot. Then if the shot is not there, they can give it back to me to repost and score. That’s our "bread and butter," as my coach says.
AP: Knowing what you know now, what would you change, if anything at all, if you could start HS basketball over again?
Payton: I’m kind of the procrastinator - in terms of school stuff. I push things off to the very last day possible. Then I stay up real late that night and finish it up. Like I’m usually up till 1 or 2 finishing my work sometimes. So I would not procrastinate, knowing what I know now. Also freshman to sophomore year, I would work on conditioning. I was not ready to go. This year I knew I was the go-to-guy. I would be counted on to produce, so I pushed myself because of that. We do a 2 mile canal run for conditioning and I always push myself to finish first or second every time. My fastest time is 10 minutes and 11 seconds. So for a big guy to get under 11 minutes is unbelievable. It’s just a testament about how badly I wanted to put myself into shape. So I think 2 things - not being a procrastinator and working on conditioning sooner.
AP: Any last things you want to add to Arizona Preps?
Payton: Thanks for coming to watch me play, and it’s nice to know that I have consistent supporters who like to critique my game and give people the opportunity to know a little more about me - so thank you.