West Linn, Oregon basketball star Payton Pritchard drafted in first round by Boston Celtics
It should come as no surprise to fans of West Linn and Oregon men's basketball, but Payton Pritchard was flying high again in the Wednesday, Nov. 18, NBA draft.
Pritchard, a 2016 graduate of West Linn High School who then played four all-star seasons at Oregon, was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 26th pick of the first round.
"I knew they were interested. I did one interview with them," said Pritchard, who led West Linn to four straight Class 6A state championships in his high school career. "I actually did not think that they would end up being the team I was going to go to, but very thankful. Obviously, it's an unbelievable organization, so I'm ready to get to work."
During his senior season with the Ducks, Pritchard took Oregon to a 24-7 overall record and a Pac-12 championship. He led the Pac-12 in points (20.5 points per game) and assists (5.5), and became the only major college player to average over 20 points, 4 rebounds and five assists per game.
A consensus AP All-America selection at Oregon, Pritchard — a 6-foot-3 point guard — was named to 13 different All-America teams in 2020. Pritchard was a Naismith Trophy finalist (the first in Oregon history), the Lute Olson Award winner as the top Division I player, the first player in Oregon history to be named the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year, and the first in program history to be named an AP first-team All-American.
Looking ahead to his coming tenure with the Celtics, Pritchard said he was confident in his skill-set.
"I can really shoot it, dribble, pass, but I think the biggest thing that I bring to the Celtics is just a competitive nature, a winning-mentality type of guy that fights for everything, works for everything," he said.
Pritchard was drafted by another former Oregon high school star — Celtics' general manager Danny Ainge led North Eugene to big-school state titles back in 1976-77, went on to win multiple awards as the nation's top college player at Brigham Young University, then played 14 seasons in the NBA, including four appearances in the NBA finals and two championships with the Celtics.
"I definitely know who Danny is," Pritchard said. "We haven't formally met in person or anything like that, but obviously, he's a very competitive person, and the Celtics organization is like the best. That's what they thrive on."
The fact that the man who drafted him is another Oregon sports legend was not lost on Pritchard.
"It means a lot, being an Oregon boy," Pritchard said. "There's obviously not a whole lot of people that made the NBA from here and stuff like that, but for me just to represent my state well and the University of Oregon means a whole lot."
As reported by CBS Boston, Pritchard could have a chance to make his mark off the Boston bench as a rookie, giving coach Brad Stevens a little more depth at the point guard position behind Kemba Walker.
"That's all I'm worried about is getting down there and competing for time and helping the team win," Pritchard said. "I'm just excited to be part 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, and so I get to carry that on. Hopefully, I get to expand my game and win a lot of games."
More than anything, Pritchard is just soaking in the moment, then preparing to work.
"It was a very emotional moment," he said of the draft. "For me, it took a lot of hard work. Definitely went through a lot of ups and downs in high school, college. Just to finally get to this moment is unreal."
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