How he got here
All the way back in 2012, Payton Pritchard graced the pages of ScoutHoops based on the promise he displayed at events such as USA Basketball. He didn’t generate immense national hype but certainly embedded himself into the scene early.
As they usually do, however, college coaches maintained a rapid pursuit. Pritchard traveled to Wisconsin as a sophomore for an unofficial visit, an early indicator that his recruitment would hum at an accelerated pace.
And then there was Oklahoma. Pritchard’s parents both are OU alums, but that actually appeared to be a mark against the Sooners early. As his father, Terry, told Brice Marich of BadgerNation.com:
”I don't think he wants to go to Oklahoma since we both went there, but it is his decision and we are leaving it up to him.”
Every recruitnik understands that situations can come full circle, and obviously that’s how events would unfold with Pritchard.
But first he focused on hooping itself during the spring and summer. Playing for Team Fast on the Adidas Uprising circuit, Pritchard was one of the league’s top scorers, averaging 20 points per game. That number became all the more impressive in light of the fact that he was playing up an age division.
He shot a sharp 39 percent from long range, knocked down 83 percent of his free throws and also dished out more than five assists per game. He earned a reputation for toughness and, even at 6-1, averaged five boards per contest.
Along the way he added offers from OU, Washington, Iowa and Indiana. But by this past November, he was ready to pick a winner. He announced for Lon Kruger’s Sooners at a press conference and gave the program a top-50 commitment and promising head start on its 2016 class.
To 2015. …
Pritchard can score. He’s comfortable firing from all ranges and presumably will continue to do so as the new year progresses. He’s stocky and powerful, too, enabling him to play a physical defensive style to compensate for above-average, but not great lateral quickness.
His body type also suggests that he’s finished growing, so at 6-1 he’ll stand slightly on the small side for college, particularly in terms of wingspan. Nevertheless, his compact driving style and tenacity make him formidable even against rangier, superior athletes.
In terms of areas to improve, my hope is he’ll tighten up his shot selection and become more effective without dribbling. He sometimes pounds the ball into the floor and can hinder the movement and flow of an offense, something that occurred (for his admittedly dysfunctional team) at last summer’s NBPA Top 100 Camp.
He’s already very three-reliant and likely will continue to be so, but that’s okay when you can bury roughly 40 percent. In college, playing in a system that has been very uptempo the past few seasons, Pritchard’s straight-ahead style, quick threes and fearlessness should pay off early.
Oklahoma fans also should rejoice in the fact that, at 6-1 and without freakish athleticism, Pritchard also projects as a four-year player. And look for him to start multiple years in Norman, with the potential to become one of the Big 12’s top guards.