Payton Dastrup has a bright future in front of him, it seems, as a college basketball player.
But the 6-10, 230-pound Dastrup – beginning his senior season at Mesa (Ariz.) Mountain View – has something else he wants to attend to first.
Dastrup is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known informally as the Mormon Church. As he nears his high school graduation, Dastrup said he is planning to serve a two-year mission for the church. That mission will potentially delay his enrollment at a four-year college until as late as the summer of 2016.
“I’m looking at going on the mission after I graduate from high school, probably in June 2014,” Dastrup said. “That’s what it looks like now. That is subject to change possibly.”
Dastrup said he hopes to finalize his college choice between Brigham Young, Florida, Ohio State and Virginia within the next two weeks. It is possible he could sign with his school of choice during the early signing period – even if he doesn’t plan to enroll next year.
BYU, of course, is a flagship university for the Mormon faith. A BYU spokesman said it is “very common” for members of the basketball team to serve missions. Of the 13 players on the BYU roster, six have served missions and two others will. Although 90 percent of the students at the school are Mormon, four of the current team members are not a part of that faith, the spokesman said.
Dastrup discussed the process involved in applying to serve and serving a Mormon mission.
“It is for a young man when he turns 18, he can apply to serve,” Dastrup said. “It is all by his choice. You fill out paperwork. You go through a three- to five-month process. You do a bunch of interviews and then they call back to you. You can go virtually anywhere.
“My dad served his mission in Indiana. His dad served in New Zealand. There was a kid who lived down the street from me who was in Madagascar. You can go anywhere in the country or anywhere in the world. It’s not a narrow subject where you could serve. It is two years of committed church service where we preach what we believe in. There is limited contact with family. They want you to embrace the work.
The 6-10, 230-pound Dastrup could man the four or five position at his school of choice
“It is definitely a life changing experience. It is something I have always been looking forward to since I was 12 or 13. It’s something I have been preparing for.”
Dastrup said his four finalists all support his decision to serve a mission and defer his enrollment.
“All of the schools have been embracing of the idea,” he said. “I would come back to college at 20 years old and turn 21 right away. The maturity and development that will happen on the mission that will help me grow on my own.”
According to Dastrup’s father, David, recent rules changes have allowed 18-year-old high school graduates to apply to serve missions.
“It is a voluntary thing,” David Dastrup said. “A year ago, the LDS church made a change in their policy for serving missions. They changed the eligibility age from 19 to 18. He will be eligible by age once he graduates to go out on his mission right away. He has talked about serving a mission for many years. I think he wants to get it done.”
David Dastrup said the family got mixed returns from some schools about the idea their son would not be available until 2016.
“For instance, Kansas was interested in Payton coming there,” David Dastrup said. “They finally called and said, ‘We don’t know what to do with Payton. We don’t know what our roster will be like from year to year.’ We had a mutual agreement. We don’t want to deal with any question marks. They said they wanted to focus with what is going on with their roster right now.
“At Ohio State, Coach Matta and the staff were clear in saying they are interested enough in Payton and what they see him bringing to the team that whether it is right away or going on his mission right away and being available to play (in 2016), they said they were in and ready to go.”
An Intriguing Prospect
Dastrup is rated as the nation’s No. 110 prospect for 2014, according to 247Sports.com. He is also rated as the nation’s No. 26 power forward prospect and No. 3 among Arizona prospects in that class.
He played AAU ball in the California Supreme program. That team played in the Nike EYBL this past spring and summer. Dastrup played in 15 of the team’s 24 games, averaging 9.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and shooting 34.8 percent (8 of 23) on three-pointers.
As a junior at Mountain View, he led his high school team in nearly every category. He averaged 18.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.1 blocks per game for a team that finished 21-11.
“I’d probably say I am a stretch four,” Dastrup said. “My high school coach uses me mostly as a back-to-the-basket guy. I feel like my skill will allow me to stretch the defense. I have a good outside shot. I rebound really well offensively and defensively.
“I’ve been trying to work on my post defense and outside defense and making sure I move my feet to contest shots.”
Jerry Meyer, the national basketball recruiting editor for 247Sports.com, shared his thoughts on Dastrup.
“Dastrup is an intelligent player with a solid skill set,” Meyer said. “He is an all-around player at the four position who will play his role in a system.”
As noted, Dastrup has cut his list of finalists to BYU, Florida, Ohio State and Virginia. Other schools that offered included Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College, Texas A&M, UNLV, Utah and Utah State.
Dastrup made a recent official visit to Ohio State over the weekend of Oct. 19 as the OSU football team hosted Iowa for a game.
“I felt like it was a nice city,” Dastrup said of Columbus. “The people are really devoted and diehard fans as we could see at the football game. The university speaks for itself. The basketball facilities are awesome. The Younkin Center (for academic support) is great. I just enjoyed the overall atmosphere there.
“We got to watch them practice Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. There were NBA scouts at practice watching them. My ultimate goal would be to get to the NBA. Seeing the scouts there tells me Ohio State is a place where I can try to reach that goal.
“Coach Matta is super driven. He is focused on winning and doing the best he can for his team and his family. Those are the things he preaches the most. It really impressed me that a guy as successful as he is that those were the things he focused on.
“Coach (Greg) Paulus, with his background of playing basketball at Duke and football at Syracuse, we really connected. I got to know those two the best.”
David Dastrup accompanied his son on that visit and shared some of his thoughts as well.
“We were able to spend some time with each member of the coaching staff while we were there,” David Dastrup said. “They are stand-up guys who are driven and successful in what they do as coaches. I think the style of play and the way they would use a player at Payton’s position kind of fits him.
“You don’t have to look far to see the guys like him who have had success at Ohio State.”
Payton Dastrup made an official visit to Virginia over the weekend of Oct. 5.
“It is in a good location,” he said. “It is a small college town. Everybody there embraces them and supports them. The arena is really nice. It is a newer facility. They have the practice gym connected to it. I liked the feel I had overall there.”
Dastrup did not make an official visit to Florida. However, he did make it to Gainesville for a Florida home game against Arkansas last February.
“I got to watch them play Arkansas at home,” he said. “I saw their program in action. I really like what they did. They brought the other recruits and myself into the locker room to see pregame and we got to walk out through the tunnel, which was cool. Things there are really nice.
“I did not get to spend a lot of time going around the campus. It was focused mostly on time with the team. But what I experienced was really good.”
He made his official visit to BYU over the weekend of Sept. 21.
“I’m LDS, so that is probably the most comfortable for me,” he said. “I have grown up following BYU. I really like the program. The coaching staff is awesome. Coach Rose is a consistent winner and they are bringing in good recruits as well. They have good classes for the next two seasons.”
Asked to discuss his finalists, he said, “I think they each have something for me and something that really stands out.”
“I’d say BYU is the most comfortable for me,” he added. “Ohio State is probably the best in terms of ratio of getting people into the NBA. Virginia probably has the best conference to play in. Florida probably has the best coaching staff overall.
“It will be a tough decision with all four of them. I could sign in the early signing period if I am ready.”
David Dastrup said his son sounds satisfied with his finalists and was not interested in prolonging the process with more visits.
“His commitments to his high school team start this week,” David Dastrup said. “He didn’t want to interfere with his high school season and the commitment to his team by doing visits once that started. I think he’s in decision-making mode and moving forward.
“His first game is Dec. 2. I think he wants to try and have something narrowed down by when that starts.”
Click here for a highlight video of Dastrup in action from his sophomore year at Mountain View.
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