March Impact Player Profile: Payton Pritchard, Oregon

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Payton Pritchard played 28 minutes a game as a freshman, when his Oregon Ducks bowed out in the Final Four. After a strong individual sophomore campaign that saw the Ducks left out of the bracket, Pritchard returned as the Ducks’ go-to-guy, as Oregon gleaned a 12th seed in the tournament and raced to the Sweet 16 before dropping a four-point contest to the eventual national champions in Virginia. Pritchard led Oregon in scoring in both of their victories, and he played all but six minutes of the three games combined.

Now, Pritchard is back in his senior season for the Pac-12 favorites, and he has Oregon hunting for a top-3 or top-4 seed in the NCAA tournament. Regardless of their seed, when the Ducks make it into the tournament, they’ll inevitably be turning to Pritchard to lead them on a deep run, which is why Pritchard is our next March Impact Player Feature. A 6’2 guard, Pritchard has shot the ball at an astounding 47% clip, including 40% from deep, and he has a clutch gene. Averaging 21.1 points per game in Pac-12 games, Pritchard has not been held to less than 16 points in a conference contest. He also dishes out close to six assists per game and even grabs about four rebounds per contest.

The Oregon senior has led the Ducks to a 7-3 conference record and 18-5 overall, propelled by a sparkling 12-0 record on their home court. Pritchard has been directly responsible for several of Oregon’s victories, including a massive comeback he engineered at Washington, which he capped off his 22-point performance with a game-winning triple. He played every minute of an overtime victory over #24 Arizona, grabbing seven rebounds and handing out six assists to compensate for a rare poor shooting performance.

That Arizona game was an indicator that Pritchard can impact a game in multiple ways. Even when his shots are falling, the senior guard falls back on gritty defense, grabbing rebounds and ball distribution to lead his squad to big wins. Pritchard has a lot of experience in March Madness, and he is 6-2 in career NCAA tournament games. He’ll be returning to the tournament this year with arguably the best team he’s been a part of over four years, and he’ll be looking to push the Ducks back towards the Final Four.

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