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Trinity’s Dominic Payne is leading the state in scoring and is No. 15 in the country with a 32.8 points per game average.   Eric Abernathy/Randolph Hub

Trinity senior leading the state in scoring

TRINITY — After a junior campaign in which Trinity High School’s Dominic Payne averaged 27.5 points per game in being named the Piedmont Conference Player of the Year, he said he knew it would be very difficult to increase his scoring total.


But increase that scoring total is exactly what Payne has been able to accomplish as the Bulldogs make their way through the 2023-24 season.

In fact, Payne’s total of  32.8 points per game is the highest of any player in the state of North Carolina. Payne has a narrow lead over Jayden Harris of Salisbury, who is averaging 32.0 points per game. Entering play this week, Payne’s scoring total is also good for 15th in the nation.


While his scoring numbers have somehow bettered those of last season, the senior who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 207 pounds still leads his team in rebounds and assists as well as the Bulldogs closed out the Sportstone.net Christmas Invitational with two wins in three games last week.

“He leads our team in scoring, rebounding and assists and you ask him to play defense against the other team’s best player,” veteran THS coach Tim Kelly said of his senior standout. “He is physically gifted, but he works awful hard.”

Payne has been a standout since he first stepped on the floor at THS. He has led the team in all statistical categories while guiding the Bulldogs to a record of 9-5 this year. Overall, THS has a 59-25 record in Payne’s career, which includes the shortened COVID season of 2020-21.


“I think me just being in the gym and training more,” Payne said as the key reason for his scoring ability. “As a team, we are putting in hard work.”


In the recently completed Sportstone.net Christmas Invitational, Payne scored 23 points as THS was upset by West Brunswick in the opening round. The Bulldogs regrouped and Payne scored 35 points in a win over Eastern Guilford and he then tallied 39 points in a 66-53 win over Providence Grove. His 97 points were the most by any one player in the entire tournament.


“It is a little bit of pressure,” Payne said of stepping onto the floor every week. “But I feel me starting all these years has led me to my senior year. I am used to leading.”

Payne is closing in on a very unique honor. He has already surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in his varsity career and should smash the 2,000-point mark sometime this season.

“It’s going to be really good to look up and see my name in the Trinity rafters,” Payne said. It will say Dominic Payne, 2000 points. But I have to play my game and not worry about that. It will come.”


Payne has led the Bulldogs on the football field as well. He has played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and sparkled on defense.

In an age where high school student-athletes transfer at almost the same rate as a collegiate athlete, Payne said he has been approached by other schools in an effort to get the all-around athlete to transfer. But he said his love for Trinity and basketball coach Tim Kelly has left no doubt where he wanted to be all four years of his high school career.


“People have come to me,” Payne said. “But Coach Kelly has put in a lot of time with us and he’s stayed with us. I love Trinity. I love everything about Trinity. I’ve always had my mind set. I’m staying at Trinity all four years.”

As far as his future, Payne said he is still unsure what path he will take. He has been offered a basketball scholarship from Davie-Davidson Community College and received football offers from Davidson and Morehead State. Others should be calling very soon.


Until he has to make that decision, he'll wait and continue to thrill Trinity fans with his athletic ability. An ability that is equaled by very few.