You will never be able to think of Oregon men's basketball without thinking of Payton Pritchard ever again.
The winningest player in program history took his final bow in front of the Eugene faithful at Matthew Knight Arena scoring 29 points on his Senior Night.
More importantly, he led the No. 13 Oregon Ducks (24-7, 13-5 Pac-12) to an outright Pac-12 Championship in the regular season by defeating the Stanford Cardinal (20-11, 9-9 Pac-12) 80-67.
After a second made free-throw with 19 seconds remaining, Pritchard walked off the court on Oregon's campus for the final time to a standing ovation from the Duck faithful.
It was kind of an emotional moment for me. Just everything I've been through here, all the ups and downs, and to finish playing here at Matthew Knight on such a high note like that. And the crowd, the way they responded to me, it's just a real blessing. I'm just very thankful to be apart of this progam. - Payton Pritchard
He and his teammates only then had to wait 19 seconds to be champions. They won the regular-season Pac-12 Championship outright for the first time in three seasons; Pritchard's freshman year: The Final Four season.
Pritchard, just a season removed from four-peating at West Linn High School was the starting point guard on the Ducks' first Final Four team since 1939 as a true freshman. The Ducks would ultimately lose to the eventual National Champion North Carolina, but the experience was invaluable for Pritchard.
It is crazy looking back at my freshman year but I think I had an understanding of what it takes to be a winner. To be a winner doesn't mean you have to score a lot of points or do certain things. It's whatever that team needs.
The journey to becoming the consensus choice for Pac-12 Player of the Year, and even getting consideration for National Player of the Year awards didn't come easy. He took a backseat his freshman season on a team that fielded four NBA players: Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell, Tyler Dorsey, and Chris Boucher.
When they all left for the next level, Pritchard took it upon himself to lead the next stage of Oregon basketball, but it included some rocky roads. The Ducks missed the tournament during his sophomore season, but even that season brought a highlight victory of defeating then-No. 14 Arizona in overtime. However, overall the season was disappointing.
His junior campaign seemed like more of the same, with Pritchard trying to force too much of an offensive load on himself to single-handily win games for the Ducks. It took til past midway through conference play for head coach Dana Altman to make him play more relaxed, which he does to this day.
As much as the ball's in his hands, he, you know, to make the decision that often that well is tough.
Pritchard and the Ducks had seemingly figured things out but needed to win the Pac-12 Tournament to punch their ticket to the big dance. Entering Las Vegas as six-seed, the Ducks won the whole thing playing four games in four days. One week after not even being named an honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 teams, Pritchard was named the MVP of the Pac-12 Tournament.
His season didn't stop there, as the Ducks upset fifth-seeded Wisconsin in the first round and 13-seeded UC Irvine to make the Sweet 16. They would fall to the eventual National Champion Virginia 53-49 but Pritchard showed he can play with the best of them.
After looking at the NBA, Pritchard decided to return for his senior season in the green and yellow with one goal in mind: to be the best.
I carry it from last year, this confidence is high and I just wanted to come back this year and... prove a point that I am not only the best point guard in the country but the best player in the country.
Well, one year after returning to school, Pritchard finished his senior regular-season averaging 20.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. And he got to celebrate a Pac-12 championship with a devoted following at Matthew Knight Arena.
After the game, Pritchard addressed the crowd and thanked the University for granting him "the greatest experience of [his] life."
Well, Payton. It's possible you gave us the best four years of Ducks basketball we'll ever experience.