Steve Payne named top assistant coach from the Ohio Valley Conference

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- In a unanimous decision by the coaches in the Ohio Valley Conference, associate head coach for the Tennessee Tech men’s basketball team, Steve Payne, was named the top Ohio Valley assistant by FOXsports.com.

Jeff Goodman, senior sportswriter and regular blogger for FOXsports.com, is posting a series of blog spots tallying the top assistant coaches in NCAA men’s basketball from each conference. On Wednesday, Goodman announced via his blog that Payne had been named the top assistant in the OVC.

Payne joins the likes of Jeff Battle (Wake Forest) out of the ACC, Jay Young (Stony Brook) out of the America East and Casey Alexander (Belmont) out of the Atlantic Sun thus far.

Payne has been the associate head coach for Mike Sutton for nearly a decade. A former NAIA assistant at Georgetown College and junior college head coach at Frank Phillips, Payne joined Sutton in 2002 and also filled in when Sutton was recovering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

"He’s worked his way up and has been a head coach before,” Sutton said. “When I got the job here, it took me 30 seconds before I called Steve. He’s been my right-hand man and can certainly coach. He’s also a great evaluator, has terrific passion for the game and has the most important quality of an assistant: Loyalty."

Runners up from the OVC included, in order Steve Prohm (Murray State), Isaac Chew (Murray State), Bret Campbell (Austin Peay) and Michael Lewis (Eastern Illinois).