By 750 THE GAME STAFF
Few, if any, basketball products from the state of Oregon have a resume that can rival that of Payton Pritchard.
A four-time state champion at West Linn, Pritchard was a four-year starter at the University of Oregon under head coach Dana Altman. He started at point guard as a freshman on the 2017 men’s Final Four squad. His senior year he became the program’s first consensus first-team All-American in eighty years.
Pritchard won Pac-12 Player of the Year honors that 2020 season, becoming the fourth player in conference history to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same year, joining the likes of Gary Payton, Damon Stoudamire, and Jason Terry.
Fellow Oregon native Danny Ainge, then the top decision-maker with the Boston Celtics, drafted Pritchard 26th overall in the first round of the 2020 draft.
Ainge has since left Boston and is now running things with the Utah Jazz. Pritchard’s first head coach in the NBA, Brad Stevens, left the sidelines and replaced Ainge in the front office following Pritchard’s rookie season. Then Ime Udoka exited after just one season replacing Stevens as head coach after leading Boston to the NBA Finals.
This past season was up and down for Pritchard and the Celtics, who still forced a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals for a second straight year but lost to the eight-seed Miami Heat.
“I would say this whole year has been an emotional roller-coaster,” Pritchard told John Canzano on 750 The Game. “That kind of series kind of sums it up for our year, going down 3-0, battling back, going 3-3, and then obviously we didn’t get it done. But I look back at this year and it was still a wonderful year, and making the Eastern Conference Finals is a great accomplishment. But obviously, we had bigger dreams and goals. But there’s always next year.”
Pritchard is eligible for an extension this summer as he prepares for his fourth NBA season. Where he plays next season remains a question, as Boston reportedly is engaged with other teams on potential trade discussions involving Pritchard.
“There’s a lot of things in the works,” Pritchard said. “And I don’t know what the future looks like yet. It’s something I let my agent handle.”
Pritchard posted career lows in games played, minutes played, and field goal attempts per game this past season after being a regular contributor on Boston’s Eastern Conference champion squad from the season prior.
“I love Boston, I love being a Celtic, obviously it’s a great organization,” Pritchard continued. “But ultimately I think I can play in this league and really contribute. So if that’s in Boston or somewhere else I think that’s my biggest goal and dream is to be a part of that. But we’ll see.”
It is natural for Trail Blazers fans to associate Portland as a potential landing spot for the 25-year-old Pritchard, one of the state’s all-time great prep and collegiate athletes.
But Pritchard knows so much remains outside of his control regarding his professional future.
“That’s the biggest learning experience for me this year, not letting that consume you,” Pritchard said.
“The NBA level is a lot of things out of your control. And as a player, you got to focus on your work and when you do get an opportunity, going out there and doing your best. So that’s what I just focused on this year.”
Pritchard acknowledged the numerous off-court challenges for the Celtics but still said it was a great year and the franchise is positioned for success going forward.
“People like to say drama and stuff like that,” Pritchard said. “But I think we really handled it, our team, really well and we stayed together. And we actually had a great regular season, a great year, made a deep playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals. It didn’t work out how we had planned it, and we just chalk it up to that.
“But just looking to the future, whether I’m part of it or not, they’re going to be great, regardless.”
Pritchard is coming back to the area to host his annual summer basketball camps at West Linn high school on June 27th-29th and again August 1st-3rd.
Listen to the full interview below. Pritchard raves about fellow West Linn product Jackson Shelstad — who he expects to be an immediate contributor at Oregon — shares why it is important for him to give back to the area, and if he ever wants to be a coach after his NBA days are over.