NCB On The Trail: Payton Pritchard

Five observations: Tarkanian Classic 

December, 22, 2014
LAS VEGAS -- Here's what we saw over the weekend at the Tarkanian Classic.

1. Stephen Zimmerman (No. 10 in ESPN 100) has always been one of the most uniquely skilled bigs in the class. However, ever since the Nike Global Challenge, his assertiveness at both ends continues to evolve. He needs to get stronger while operating on the block, but his improvement in leadership and physicality must be noted. Sprinting in transition, eye-dropping finishes, pinpoint passing and taking ownership of his team were part of the package.

Scout's Take: 2016 PG Pritchard to OU 

November, 18, 2014
Junior point gaurd Payton Pritchard (No. 46 in ESPN 60) chose Oklahoma after making unofficial visits to Villanova, Virginia, Wisconsin, UCLA, Oregon, Gonzaga, Butler and Indiana. Pritchard led his high school team in West Linn, Oregon to the 6A state championship as a sophomore, and he is the No. 1 player in the state of Oregon regardless of class.

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Payton Pritchard didn’t plan on following in his parents’ footsteps when he took a visit to Oklahoma earlier this month. He just wanted to put the school under consideration like a handful of other options.

In the end, being the next Pritchard in Norman was too difficult to pass up. The four-star junior committed to the Sooners on Tuesday.

“I just think it’s a great fit,” Pritchard told “It kind of just felt home. I loved the community there. I just felt really comfortable. The players were great, the coaches were just awesome.

“The direction they’re going. They want to win, and they’re making it to March Madness every year now. Coach [Lon] Kruger gets his players ready. Their player development is really good.”

Both of Pritchard’s parents went to Oklahoma, with his father playing tight end on the football team. He still has family in the area too, which will make the move from his West Linn, Oregon, home easier.

ESPN’s No. 46 prospect in the junior class, Pritchard is looking to continue Oklahoma’s recent success. He was impressed by the Sooners’ up-tempo style; OU ranked seventh nationally in scoring last season (82.2 ppg). Sophomore Jordan Woodard will likely still be on campus when Pritchard arrives, and Pritchard is eager to learn from Woodard.

“His quickness, his court vision. He plays really good defense,” Pritchard said. “As a point guard, the way they play, I can really push it. Get up and down the floor. Play hard defense. Just be able to be a floor general. I can get everybody involved, I’m a winner, I just compete. Just whatever the coaches ask me to do, that’s what I’ll do.”

Pritchard, a 6-foot-2 point guard, is Oklahoma’s highest-ranked commit since Kruger took over the program in 2011. Pritchard chose the Sooners over finalists Wisconsin, Oregon, Gonzaga and Villanova, and he is the first pledge in the 2016 class for the Sooners.

It wasn’t always the plan to make a decision while he was still early in his junior year, but Pritchard was convinced after his recent campus visit.

“I was ready to get it over with,” he said. “I knew where I wanted to go, and I didn’t want to drag it out.”

Pritchard’s commitment caps off a great few days for the Oklahoma program. Late Saturday night, the Sooners received word that Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas was eligible to play immediately. And on Sunday, they blew out Southeastern Louisiana to open the season.

The Sooners (1-0) travel to Creighton (2-0) on Wednesday.
The Adidas Unrivaled Camp had a strong blend of some of the nation’s best players, with talent from the senior class down to the rising sophomore group. The format was simple and effective, with drill stations in the morning and games in the afternoon and evening. The camp concluded with senior and underclassman all-star games.

With many stars to choose from, let’s take a look at who had an impressive camp, why, and the latest on recruiting for these top talents.

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With the field expanding from 25 to 60 as the sophomores become juniors, here are 10 things to know about the prospects in the new ESPN 60 for the Class of 2016:

1. Jayson Tatum continues to make his move upward. The talented and skilled 6-foot-7 small forward has great feel and is a high-level playmaker with size and basketball intelligence. The St. Louis Chaminade College Prep standout made another slight jump within the top five, going from No. 4 to No. 3.

2. The rim-protecting dominance of center Udoka Azubuike has continued. A strong and physical low-post presence, the Jacksonville (Fla.) Potter's House Christian standout rebounds, finishes and blocks shots with power and has been rewarded by moving inside the top 10 at No. 6.

[+] EnlargeTerrance Ferguson
Kelly KlineTerrance Ferguson of Prime Prep Academy is a standout shooter in the ESPN 60.
3. There are some big-time wing scorers in the Class of 2016. These bucket-getters attack defenders and are difficult to deal with when they have the ball in their hands. Shooting guards Malik Monk and Josh Langford, small forwards Mario Kegler and V.J. King and SG Tyus Battle lead the top 20 players.

4. Shooting guard Terrance Ferguson has the sweetest shooting stroke in the top 10. Ferguson has a high release and excellent follow-through. He loves the corner jumper from behind the arc and shoots over smaller defenders as if they are invisible.

5. Combination forward Miles Bridges and point guard Dennis Smith are fresh faces in the top 10 because of their consistent production. A few dominant performances this spring on the travel circuit clearly separated them from their peers.

6. Point guard Jaylen Fisher has special court vision. The Arlington (Tenn.) Bolton standout puts the ball on time and on target and attacks the defense with his ability to penetrate. Fisher not only finds the open man but also delivers the ball in position to score on the catch.

7. Harry Giles made his debut this spring after suffering a knee injury that required surgery. The 6-9 Giles, from Winston-Salem (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian, is still rounding into form, but we did see flashes of his game before the injury from this talented power forward. He has all the tools to be a special player with terrific upside.

8. There's a lot of variety and versatility in the 2016 class. Many players can play and excel at two positions, both in the post and on the perimeter. A few examples are Bridges, Omari Spellman, Amir Coffey, Vance Jackson and Kobi Jordan-Simmons.

9. With only 10 true point guards in the ESPN 60, it is definitely a situation of quality over quantity. These point guards may be small in numbers, but all are very good players who will lead and make winning plays for their team. Newcomer Smith leads the way. Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox, Trent Forrest, Derryck Thornton, Devearl Ramsey, Payton Pritchard, Xavier Simpson, Cassius Winston and Howard Washington all have had standout springs.

10. In comparison, the 2016 ESPN 60 will be better than the 2015 ESPN 60.

Adidas Gauntlet recap 

May, 26, 2014
Tavares, Fla. – Jaylen Brown, who is ranked No. 13 in the ESPN 60, and Thon Maker, who is ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2016, were on top of their games during a very competitive weekend at the final Adidas Gauntlet series.

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Adidas Dallas Gauntlet recap 

April, 27, 2014
DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- The Duncanville Fieldhouse was the site of the Adidas Dallas Gauntlet, which is the first stop on the tournament series that will also head to Indianapolis (May 16-18) and Orlando, Fla., (May 23-26). These three qualifying events will determine which 32 teams will complete in championship play at the Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas from July 23-27.

Here are a few players that stood out at this event, which was loaded with Division I-caliber talent.

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