Payton Pritchard was not shy about stating how he stacked up against the elite players in college basketball this season.
"I wanted to come back this year and through hard work, prove a point that I think I’m not only the best point guard in the country, but the best player," the senior said after Oregon defeated Stanford 80-67 on March 7 to clinch the Pac-12 title in what turned out to be the final game of the year for the Ducks because the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments were canceled due to COVID-19.
Pritchard continued to pile up national awards on Tuesday when he was named the winner of the Bob Cousy Award for the top point guard in the nation. Pritchard previously earned the Lute Olson Award given to the nation’s top player by CollegeInsider.com.
"It means a lot to win this award, to see all the hard work and hours spent in the gym pay off," Pritchard said. "You don't get awards like these without winning and that takes a team effort."
Pritchard earned consensus all-American honors by earning first-team recognition from the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Associated Press, Sporting News and second-team status from the United States Basketball Writers Association. Pritchard is the first consensus all-American for the Ducks since John Dick in 1940.
Pritchard was named Pac-12 player of the year after becoming the fourth player in conference history to lead the league in scoring and assists. He averaged 20.5 points, 5.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds to become one of three players in the nation to average at least 20 points, five assists and four rebounds per game.
Pritchard is Oregon’s school record-holder in assists (659), wins (105) games played (144) and games started (140). He ranks second at the school in career steals (211) and three-pointers (288). His 1,938 career points rank fourth all-time at Oregon.
"This is really a great honor for Payton and his teammates," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "Any point guard award obviously goes to his teammates as well because of the assists and winning. For our program, to have an award this prestigious with Bob Cousy’s name on it, it’s great. There’s only one winner a year and as time goes by, that’s becomes more and more historically significant."
Pritchard beat out Tre Jones of Duke, Devon Dotson of Kansas, Markus Howard of Marquette and Malachi Flynn of San Diego State for the Cousy Award. He joins Utah’s Delon Wright in 2015 as the only Pac-12 players to earn the award that was created in 2004.
"Payton Pritchard was the ultimate point guard this season, knowing when to make the pass and when to score," said Cousy, the 13-time NBA All-Star for the Boston Celtics. "He led the outstanding Pac-12 Conference in passing and assists and always seemed to deliver when his team needed him most. Congrats to Payton on a tremendous season and collegiate career."
Oregon had the nation’s best point guard in men’s and women’s basketball as Sabrina Ionescu won the Nancy Lieberman Award on Monday for the top point guard on the women’s side.
"That's amazing," Pritchard said. "We both came in together and for us to finish together on top is amazing. She has had one unbelievable career at Oregon and she is not done yet, her greatness has just begun."