I don’t think there is an argument here - Payton Pritchard is the greatest men’s basketball player in Oregon school history. In his four-year career wearing the green and yellow (a very rare occurrence in college basketball but respected), Payton averaged 13.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.8 RPG, and 1.5 SPG while shooting .437% from the field and 800% from the free throw line. His breakout senior season is what put him on the nation’s radar with averages of 20.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG, .415 3P%, and .486 FG%. Pritchard rarely missed time on the court as he started in 140 of his 144 career games played while averaging 33.7 minutes played. A true gym rat who will do whatever it takes to contribute what’s best for the team.
Here’s a list of the awards and accomplishments Payton achieved during his tenure in Eugene:
- 2017 Final Four appearance
- 2017, 2020 PAC-12 regular season champion
- 2018 Second-Team All PAC-12
- 2019 PAC-12 Tournament champion
- 2019 PAC-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player
- 2020 First-Team All PAC-12
- 2020 PAC-12 Player of the Year
- 2020 Bob Cousy Award
- 2020 Lute Olson Award
- 2020 Wooden Award Finalist
- 2020 Naismith Trophy Finalist
- 2019-2020 AP First Team All-American (first in Oregon men’s school history)
- Oregon’s all-time wins leader (105)
- Oregon’s all-time assist leader (659); 8th in PAC-12 history
- 2nd in Oregon career steals (211); 18th in PAC-12 history
- 4th in Oregon career scoring (1,938); 19th in PAC-12 history
- 2nd in Oregon career three-pointers (288); 9th in PAC-12 history
- first player in PAC-12 history with 1,900 points, 500 rebounds and 600 assists
I think my favorite moment from this collegiate star’s career has to come on January 18, 2020. Pritchard scored 22 points and drained a 30-foot shot with 3 seconds left to complete the 16 point comeback win at Washington in OT, 64-61 (Oregon fans love nothing better than breaking the heart of UW fans). He was one of the most clutch players in all of college basketball this past season. In fact, Synergy Basketball determined that Payton scored more points in “crunch time” than any other player in the NCAA with 91 points. The man couldn’t be denied a bucket when it mattered most.
Some other memorable moments from his spectacular career is when he scored a career-high 38 points with 6 three-pointers in Oregon’s win at #24 Arizona on February 22, 2020. You may also remember his fantastic performance back in the first round upset of the 2019 March Madness over 5th-seeded Wisconsin where Payton led 12th-seeded Oregon with 19 points and 8 assists in the victory. That 2018-2019 underdog team would continue to move on with a win over UC Irvine in the Round of 32 but eventually lose to the national champion Virginia Cavaliers in the Sweet 16.
In his freshman year during the 2016-2017 season, Pritchard was overshadowed by a plethora of stars (Chris Boucher, Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, Jordan Bell, Dylan Ennis) but that team would have never been as successful as it was if Payton hadn’t stepped into the starting role in the 5th game of the early season. After that change was made by Dana Altman, the Ducks went on a roll with a 31-4 record to end the season that would eventually end with a loss to another eventual national champion in North Carolina in the Final Four.
The best part about Payton’s basketball career is that it is far from over. He has the possibility to be a second round steal in the upcoming NBA Draft or sneak on a roster while going undrafted. I picture Pritchard having a successful career as a backup point guard... similar to Trey Burke, Tyus Jones, or Patty Mills. And let me tell you, that’s a lot of money at his fingertips with that career path.
Duck fans everywhere should be grateful for all the hard work and dedication Payton has contributed to the basketball program, the university, and the entire state of Oregon. He will continue to inspire the future generation wherever he ends up at the next level. Even once playing the game of basketball comes to an end for him, Pritchard could make a fantastic coach or better yet, a trainer.
Thanks for everything, Payton. Best of luck in your future endeavours.
*Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho