Second-round draft prospect Gary Payton II, the son of the Hall-of-Famer by the same name, will return to Oregon State rather than enter this year’s draft, his college coach, Wayne Tinkle, tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Payton is the 42nd-best prospect, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, though Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress offers a less optimistic projection, ranking him only 35th among college juniors. Givony does have the point guard 57th in his mock draft for next year, however.
Payton has the potential to become an elite defender, Ford writes, and indeed, his defensive rating and defensive win shares were tops in the Pac-12, according to Sports Reference. There are nonetheless questions about whether he fits as a point guard in the NBA, according to Ford. He averaged only 3.2 assists against 1.9 turnovers in 36.3 minutes per game for the Beavers this season, scoring 13.4 points per game. He didn’t display three-point touch in his lone season at Oregon State so far after transferring from junior college, knocking down only 29.3% of his attempts from behind the arc.
His 7.5 rebounds per game this year stand out as an eye-popping number for a 6’3″ guard. He also nabbed 3.1 steals per contest, the second-best mark in all of NCAA Division I, which suggests that he has a future in the NBA as a defensive specialist if he can at least perform competently on the other end.