With all the roster turnover, the one-and-dones, the transfers in the last four years in the Oregon men’s basketball program, the one consistent piece in Dana Altman’s system has been Payton Pritchard.
The Portland-native from West Linn High School, 4x state champion, 2015 Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year, Pritchard was the top player out of the state of Oregon and the No. 13 ranked point guard in the nation in the 2016 class. He averaged 23.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 3.1 steals per game and knocked down 68 three-pointers as a senior.
Pritchard had offers from Gonzaga, Villanova, Wisconsin, Oregon and Oklahoma and originally committed to the Sooners. A few months later, a new decision was made: Pritchard decided to sign with the Ducks.
I’ve grown up here. I’m an Oregon boy, born and raised. I love Coach Altman and his coaching staff and I just feel I can be really successful there. — Pritchard told KOIN6 News back in 2015.
The impact Pritchard has had since stepping on campus for the first time has been remarkable.
It didn’t take long for Payton Pritchard to earn his way into the starting lineup. Just five games into his freshman season, Pritchard replaced then starter Casey Benson against the Tennessee Volunteers in the Maui Invitational. Pritchard finished with six points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal.
After he moved into the starting lineup, the Ducks went 31-4 the rest of the way and fell one game short of playing for a national championship for the first time since the 1939 "Tall Firs" brought the title home to Eugene.
Season-ending averages: 7.4 points, 3.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.
No “sophomore slump” for Pritchard.
Coming off a Final Four run in the previous season, the Ducks lost Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Jordan Bell to the NBA Draft along with Chris Boucher and Dylan Ennis. The 2017-18 roster featured four returners from the previous year: Pritchard, M.J. Cage, Keith Smith and Paul White.
Pritchard was named All-Pac-12 Second Team selection and led Oregon in both scoring and assists.
The Ducks finished the season 23-13 overall, 10-8 in the Pac-12 and eventually lost in round two of the NIT Tournament to the Marquette Golden Eagles.
Season-ending averages: 14.5 points, 4.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds
Another year, another large roster turnover year.
The Ducks returned five players from the previous season: Pritchard, Paul White Kenny Wooten, Will Johnson, and Abu Kigab (transferred midseason).
Named Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Pritchard led the nation in total minutes played (1,349) and starting all 38 games on 2018-19.
He also had quite the impressive dunk against the Washington Huskies in the Pac-12 championship game that got his former teammate Dillon Brooks on his feet:
Oregon went on to make a deep NCAA Tournament run, but ran its course in the Sweet Sixteen to the eventual National Champions the Virginia Cavaliers.
Season-ending averages: 12.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds
Following his junior campaign, Pritchard decided to test the NBA waters.
Over the course of his final 11 games his junior year, Pritchard averaged 15.8 points, 5.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds. Part of his feedback from NBA scouts was seeing “tournament Pritchard” on a consistent basis. He would return to Oregon for his senior year.
Now, Pritchard is in National Player of the Year conversations and just one of three active D1 players to be averaging 19.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game.
The Ducks were predicted as the preseason favorites for the Pac-12 title and are currently at the top.
Season averages: 19.6 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds
Against UCLA on Sunday, Jan. 26, Pritchard etched his name in Oregon history once again becoming the winningest player in Oregon history with 98 wins.
Tonight vs. No. 16 Colorado, he notched his 100th.
The Ducks still have six games remaining on their conference schedule and at least one game at the Pac-12 Tournament before reaching postseason play.