In a race for Pac-12 Player of the Year that really wasn’t a debate, it’s now official that Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard will be taking home the award.
Pritchard decided to pull his name out of the NBA Draft last Spring, knowing that to have a better chance in the NBA he would need to show that what he did at the end of last season wasn’t just a hot streak.
Well this season he showed that clearly wasn’t the case. Pritchard took his performance from last years Pac-12 Tournament, a tournament that he was the MVP of, and the NCAA Tournament, and showed that he can do it for a full season, averaging 20.5 points per game while also pulling down 4.3 rebounds per game and dishing out 5.5 assists per game.
Perhaps most importantly though was his ability to extend his range and consistently hit 30-foot three-pointers. That ability made him almost unstoppable because teams are hesitant to guard him out that far, and if a team is going to try and double-team him, it leaves way to much open space to play four on three basketball.
Even more impressively though, Pritchard scores 21.9 points per game while shooting 42.4 percent from deep in conference play.
Oregon clinched an outright conference title on Saturday, and it’s hard to say where they would’ve finished this season without the heroics from Pritchard, but it’s pretty easy to say they wouldn’t have won the conference outright.
On top of him putting the team on his back this season, he came up big in the biggest moments. Look no further than his clutch performance against Washington and his 38-point performance at Arizona. Both games were huge road wins at the time for a team that struggled away from Matthew Knight Arena this season, and they simply don’t win those games if he doesn’t play the way he did.
There was just not debate for this award.
Top Photo: CBS Sports