All the hard work and dedication that Payton Pritchard has put into the game of basketball has finally paid off.
The kid from West Linn, Oregon, who led West Linn High School to four straight state championships, who became the starting point guard at the University of Oregon for four straight years, who went viral for showing off his insane handles, has finally made his dreams of being in the NBA come true.
It’s been a long, emotional journey for the point guard, but a historical one to say the least and one that he can be proud of.
On Wednesday, the Boston Celtics came knocking with the No. 26 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
“I knew they were interested. I did one interview with them,” said Pritchard after being selected on Draft night. “I actually did not think that they would end up being the team that I was going to go to but very thankful. Obviously it’s an unbelievable organization. So, I’m ready to get to work.”
Pritchard joins Aaron Nesmith, shooting forward from Vanderbilt selected No. 14 overall, and Yam Madar, point guard from Israel in this year’s Celtics draft class.
The 6’2”, 190-pound guard will get the chance to develop behind 4x All-Star “Cardiac” Kemba Walker. He will become just the third Duck to play for the Celtics, joining Jim Barnett and Jim Loscutoff, who was a member of six World Championship teams with Boston from 1956-64. Both men are in the UO Athletic Hall of Fame.
Pritchard is your all-around point guard. He earned the starting spot at Oregon just a few games into his freshman season at Oregon. That year, the Ducks went onto the NCAA Tournament Final Four.
Four years later and Pritchard was named the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year, Lute Olson Award Player of the Year, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, a First-Team All-America (from nearly every major media outlet) and a Pac-12 champion. In his final season, he averaged 20.5 points, 5.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds and finished off his collegiate career as the first player in Pac-12 history to have 1,900 career points, 500 career rebounds and 600 career assists.
But what he really brings to the Celtics can’t be seen in the box score or on the stat sheets. Something that Boston fans will love to see.
“I can really shoot it, dribble, pass," Pritchard added.
"So, I’m just excited to be apart of this organization, be part of a winning culture. Wherever I’ve been in high school, college, it’s always been about winning and competing. So I get to carry that on. Hopefully I get to expand my game and win a lot of games.”
Make no mistake. There is still room on his hands for more rings alongside the four high school state championship rings and a Pac-12 championship ring.
“I just want to bring a sense of toughness, a guy that can really spread the floor and make plays. Just really toughness, competitiveness, and try to help a team try and win a ring and a championship.”
Boston fans, you got yourself a good one!