All-America selection led Ragin' Cajuns to berth in NCAA Championships
Lafayette, LA — Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball player Elfrid Payton announced on Monday that he will forego his final season of eligibility to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.
During his three-year career with the Ragin' Cajuns, Payton finished 16th in school history in scoring (1,425 points) while grabbing 508 rebounds with 486 assists (fifth on the all-time list) and a school-record 197 steals. His 644 career free throw attempts were fourth in school history, trailing Bo Lamar (802, 1969-73), Tim Thompson (722, 1957-61) and Andrew Toney (690, 1976-80) - one of two players in school history to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Payton averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game in helping the Ragin' Cajuns to a 23-12 record and their first berth to the NCAA Championships since 2005. Payton scored in double figures in 32 of 35 games played, including 14 games with 20 or more points and four 30-point performances. On the season, Payton attempted a school-record 302 free throws, breaking the previous mark of 273 set by Dean Church in 1964-65.
He was honored earlier this month as the 2014 Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the Lou Henson All-America Team. Payton earned first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors, where he was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year, and the named the 2014 College Basketball Player of the Year by both the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) and the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches (LABC).
Payton led the Sun Belt Conference in steals for the second consecutive year, recording 80 and finishing with a school-record total to 197. He finished second on the team in rebounds (6.0) and was part of a defensive unit that led the Sun Belt Conference in rebounding margin and was second in steals.
He was one of 10 Division I players during the season to record a triple-double when he scored 34 points, with 11 rebounds and 11 assists at ULM. Payton scored 31 points in games against Houston and Western Kentucky and 32 against Oakland while posting six double-doubles, including games at Louisiana Tech and defending national champion Louisville.
Payton spent last summer as the starting point guard for Team USA at the FIBA U19 World Championship, helping the team to the gold medal. The John Ehret High product took part in a seven-game goodwill tour of China and the Far East with Reach USA, where he led the team in scoring in seven games.
STATEMENT FROM Elfrid Payton REGARDING THE 2014 NBA DRAFT
"This has been a long and engaging process for both me and my family. First, I would like thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to make a decision like this. I would also like to thank my family, coaches and the people close to me that have helped me gather information during this process. With that being said, I am excited to announce that I will forego my final year of eligibility at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and will be entering the 2014 NBA Draft. I sincerely want to say 'thank you' to my coaches, my teammates, and most importantly the great Ragin' Cajun fans that have supported me during the last three seasons. This has been a great three years where I've grown up, both on and off the court. I will be Cajun forever. Thank you for everything."
STATEMENT FROM LOUISIANA RAGIN' CAJUNS HEAD COACH BOB MARLIN
"As always, I support Elfrid and will continue to do so. For the past three years, I have watched him develop as a tremendous leader, both on and off the court. He has met every challenge that has been presented to him in the game of basketball - from high school, to competing for USA Basketball, and most importantly, helping restore the rich tradition of Ragin' Cajuns basketball. I am proud for him and I am confident that he will be successful as he enters this next stage in his life."