Payton Pritchard has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to the Oregon men’s basketball program for his senior season, he announced on his Instagram.
The deadline to withdraw from the 2019 NBA Draft is today, May 29th, and according to multiple reports, the decision was last minute due to interest from an NBA team.
The West Linn native took command of the Ducks in their inspired late season run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 run, garnering warranted attention.
With much thanks to Pritchard, the Ducks won their final 10 of 11 games, including the Pac-12 Tournament. In that stretch, the point guard averaged 15.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals. He also earned the Pac-12 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honor.
He decided to test the NBA waters but Pritchard was not invited to the NBA Combine, isn’t on ESPN’s board for the top 100 players for this year’s NBA Draft or on any mock drafts I could find.
Returning to Oregon puts him in a position to raise his draft stock and makes him a possible candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year.
Pritchard enters his fourth season as UO's starting point guard to a team that looks vastly different from last season. The program lost seven scholarship players; two seniors moved on, three players left the program for the NBA Draft and two Ducks have transferred.
UO has a total of six eligible players on the roster for this season. Pritchard is one of three Ducks coming back from last season; rising-sophomores Francis Okoro and Will Richardson also are back.
The Ducks add a top 15 recruiting class including signees CJ Walker, Chandler Lawson and Chris Duarte and are in pursuit of several transfers.
Don't fret Ducks fans, next season is not lost. The Ducks can still find success and make a postseason run with Pritchard’s return, Dana Altman as head coach, a strong incoming class and the team buying into elite defense. However, with the mass exodus, Oregon will once again need to find its centerpiece star.