By Nick Daschel • The Oregonian

Payton Pritchard, by the numbers

• Second in career steals for Oregon history with 164 behind Kenya Wilkins (213)

• Fourth in career assists with 487 behind Luke Ridnour (500)

• He is the 37th 1,000-point scorer in Oregon history

• Ranks 19th in UO career scoring with 1,303 points

• Ranks seventh in career 3-pointers with 200

Source: goducks.com

SAN FRANCISCO — Oregon’s Payton Pritchard is not big on bragging about himself, so naturally answering this question did not come easily.

The senior guard was asked at Pac-12 men’s basketball media day last week if he could think of a player comparable to his game. Pritchard pondered the question, but he could not come up with a comparison.

Basketball Hall of Famer and now broadcaster Bill Walton was within earshot, and unlike Pritchard, he has an answer for just about everything.

“He’s a bigger, stronger, better-looking Steve Nash,” Walton said of Pritchard, likening Pritchard to the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player.

The Ducks star smiled.

“If I’m ever that,” said Pritchard, “I’ll definitely be OK.”

Walton is known for his extreme hyperbole, of course. But it is not a stretch to say that Pritchard is one of the best guards ever to wear an Oregon uniform, if not the best. Statistically, Pritchard could finish his career among Ducks elite.

To wit:

— Pritchard is almost certain to finish his career as the program’s winningest player. He is at 81 wins through three years. The record is 97, held by Johnathan Loyd (2010-14).

— Should Pritchard play in 32 games this season, he will become the school leader in career games.

— Pritchard should finish No. 1 in career assists, as he needs 128 to pass Kenya Wilkins. He has a shot to become the school’s all-time leader in steals, needing 50 this season to pass Wilkins.

— Pritchard has 1,303 career points and should easily finish among Oregon’s top five by season’s end. No. 1 is probably out of reach, as Ron Lee has 2,085 career points. But it is possible Pritchard could run down Luke Jackson (1,970) for No. 2.

“I’m up there for a lot,” Pritchard said. “But doing whatever it takes to win the game that day, it’s all that matters to me.”

There will be a temptation for Pritchard to put the Ducks on his shoulders this season. The stakes are high for Pritchard, from wanting to finish his college career with a bang to leaving a final impression on NBA scouts and coaches.

Pritchard says he will be aggressive in 2019-20, though not out of desperation.

“I’ve got to be a basketball player, at the end of day. If I see a play to be made, I have to make it,” he said. “That’s how I’m looking at things. It’s not like I’m looking to like, ‘I have to put the team on my back.’”

Getting to this place in his career, with myriad records and milestones within reach, Pritchard has dealt with plenty. He broke into the Ducks program in 2016-17 off a star-studded high school career at West Linn, where he was a three-time Class 6A player of the year. Immediately, Pritchard had an impact in Eugene, helping Oregon reach the 2017 Final Four.

The following two years brought moments of extremes, particularly last year, when Pritchard said he went “through a low place,” only to recover and become the Pac-12 Tournament’s most outstanding player and lead the Ducks to an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance.

“He’s a talented young man that’s driven. He works very hard at his game,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “You love players in your program like that, where it’s all about the team winning.”

Ultimately, Pritchard would like an Oregon career that leads to the NBA. He tested the draft waters last spring when he declared early, only to return to the Ducks after the workout process.

Upon putting his name into the draft, Pritchard said he did not know whether he would be back in college or not.

“I was kind of open-minded,” he said. “I had some choices to make, but me and my family thought the best decision was to come back.”

Pritchard said he “didn’t learn a whole bunch” in regard to revelations about his game during the pre-draft workouts. He knows where he is strong, and he knows the holes in his game. But affirmation from NBA officials gave Pritchard belief that he is on the right track.

“Everywhere I heard that I could be a pro and that I will be pro,” he said. “That’s what I keep hearing now.”

The challenge facing Pritchard this season is similar to his junior year. He is one of the few veterans on a team that is loaded with talent but that is also filled with unknowns in terms of how the pieces fit. As one of the leaders, Pritchard says he will need to help spread the message that “guys have to be willing to sacrifice.”

The goal this season, Pritchard says, is “win the trifecta: the regular season, the conference tournament, and then the national championship.”

Whether it is “the trifecta” or something a little less than that, Pritchard feels his four-year Ducks career has been a worthy one.

“It’s been a roller coaster, for sure,” he said. “Filled with ups and downs, but it’s made me a better person in how I look at life. Definitely have a lot of great memories and a lot of good wins.”

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