Nike Hoop Summit Will Be A Home Game For Portland Area’s Payton Pritchard
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A six-foot guard from the Portland suburb of West Linn, Oregon, Payton Pritchard’s (West Linn H.S.) distinction as the only local player in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit, which will be played at 12 p.m. (PT) April 9 at the Moda Center, will not be the only thing that sets him apart on a talented U.S. roster.
Not only is the University of Oregon-bound Pritchard an international 3x3 veteran after having suited up for USA Basketball at the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship in Debrecen, Hungary, he actually scrimmaged against the USA Junior National Select Teams during their training camps in advance of the in 2014 and 2015 Nike Hoop Summits as part of a local, practice squad.
“To play against high-level competition like that – I was only a sophomore playing against those seniors, which most of them are in the NBA now – playing against them and learning from them was awesome,” Prichard said of taking the court against USA Junior National Teams that included Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Stanley Johnson in 2014 and Jalen Brunson, Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard in 2015. “(I was) taking everything I could from the experience.”
In fact, the challenge of playing against the highest level athletes in the U.S. is one of the things Pritchard said has helped him most to develop his game.
“I think playing people like that gives you confidence no matter what,” Pritchard said. “Just to go out there and compete, knowing that you already have gone against some of the best players, helps your confidence.
“You take bits from great players and what they do well and try to put that into your own game. So, playing against the best, you just compete and give it your all. So, I think just doing that alone just makes you better.”
Pritchard’s first experience with USA Basketball was back in 2012, and since then he has taken part in three more national team training camps, often alongside several of his 2016 USA teammates.
“We’ve been out there (in Colorado Springs) a lot together, so a lot of us know each other,” Pritchard explained. “We have good chemistry I think already.”
In 2015, Pritchard was named to his first USA Basketball national team after he and his teammates won the USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament and earned the right to represent the USA in the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.
“I think about representing with USA on your chest, but going to a different country and playing in front of those people and meeting new people,” Pritchard said when asked to think back to his 3x3 experience. “3x3 is a little different, so that was also fun learning that style of basketball. It’s really a quick pace. It was a good event.
“It was kind of challenging, but I liked it. You played a lot of games, which was fun.”
Pritchard and his teammates finished 4-3 and in eighth place after losing two overtime games in the preliminary round and then falling 20-18 to France in the quarterfinals.
With 19 points and an incredible shooting performance in the round of 16 against Poland, Prichard almost single-handedly propelled the USA into the quarterfinals. Pritchard made nine 2-pointers in the game to help the USA upset a No. 2 seed.
Overall, Pritchard finished with 53 points and was the fourth-leading scorer in the entire tournament.
“I was really just hoping that our team would win gold,” Pritchard admitted. “It was kind of disappointing when we didn’t.
“I actually didn’t know that until now,” Pritchard added of his scoring rank. “I was just trying to go in there and be aggressive.”
That mindset has carried Pritchard right into his final prep basketball campaign at West Linn High School, were he is hoping to help his team win a fourth-straight Oregon 6A state title.
“That would be incredible to win four straight and just to do it for the city of West Linn would be awesome,” Pritchard said.
So far, Pritchard and West Linn are off to a 10-3 start (as of Jan. 17).
Looming beyond his senior high school season, however, is Pritchard’s chance to once again don a USA jersey, and this time, he is determined to produce a different result – a win against the World Select Team.
“I’ve been thinking about that, and it’s going to be a great experience,” Pritchard said of taking the court so close to his hometown. “The people of Portland are going to be supportive. I’m a hometown boy, so it’s going to be fun to represent the USA and Portland at the same time.
“We didn’t finish how we wanted to (at the 3x3 U18 World Championship), so, for me, I just need to keep bettering myself, and getting ready for the Nike Hoop Summit is a goal of mine.”
Get Nike Hoop Summit tickets: bit.ly/nikehoopsummit