Work Ethic Pays Off For Oregon Native, Payton Pritchard

Emma Jeanson

It’s not everyday that Oregonians see a local high school athlete make the pros. So far we’ve seen Kevin Love, an NBA Player from Lake Oswego High School, Ndamukong Suh, an NFL Player from Grant High School, Adley Rutschman, an MLB player from Sherwood High School, and Justin Herbert, an NFL player from Sheldon High School, as well as a few others. 

Now, we are able to add a more recent name to the list: Payton Pritchard, an NBA player from West Linn High School. Pritchard, the 26th pick of the 2020 draft, joined the Boston Celtics after playing all four collegiate basketball seasons at the University of Oregon. 

Prior to that, Pritchard attended West Linn High School and helped his team win the 6A State Basketball Championship four years in a row. At WLHS, he was a star athlete and a dedicated player during all of his years of basketball, receiving the Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year twice in 2015 and 2016. If there is one thing that Pritchard proved, it was that hard work does pay off. Anyone who stopped by Club Sport (now known as Bay Club), would see Pritchard on a Friday night with a bag of balls working and perfecting his game on the court. The huge work ethic he had granted him the opportunity of playing at a Division I school, just two hours from his hometown.

At the University of Oregon, Pritchard fit right in, averaging from 7.4 points per game during his freshman season to 20.5 points per game in his senior season. His success was shown in the record numbers and the title of being the first player in Pac-12 history to score over 1900 points throughout his career. Adding to that, Pritchard led the Ducks to the Final Four in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, became a Pac-12 champion in 2020, and was awarded Pac-12 Player of the Year and the Bob Cousy award, given to the best point guard in college basketball  in 2020. Now his talents have been taken to the NBA as a player on the Celtics, and his fame and game is quickly enlarging. 

As a surprising first round draft pick, Pritchard has been exceeding expectations in the league so far. Out of 10 games, he’s had an average of 8.6 points per game and on Jan. 4, he scored a career high of 23 points against the Toronto Raptors. The confident point guard has scored an average of 5.9 more points per game than Aaron Nesmith, the other Celtic pick from the 2020 draft who was picked at No. 14.

 In just his ninth NBA game with the Celtics, Pritchard found himself on the court in the final seconds of the game against the Miami Heat with the score tied. In such a close game, some people may have questioned why the rookie was even on the floor. However, making another statement in the league, Pritchard followed a missed jumper, got the rebound, and put the ball back into the hoop with two seconds on the clock to go. The Heat weren’t able to score in the time left, leaving Pritchard a shower of celebration from this team for his game-winning basket.

 People are comparing Pritchard to Miami’s Tyler Herro, a young point guard who carries the same amount of confidence and swag as the Celtic Rookie. Pritchard has also been getting praises for his game by other athletes including New England Patriot wide receiver, Julian Edelman, who wore Pritchard’s jersey before his NFL game.

It is no surprise that the rookie has a very bright future in the NBA and will always appear to be a great role model for all Oregonians, encouraging young athletes that hard work and determination can get you to the big leagues. Now that Pritchard has officially made it, we are just left to wonder who will be the next athlete from Oregon to go pro?