Next Monday was already shaping up to be a pretty big day for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Zags will take on SMU at 8pm in Spokane but now they will have something to look forward to earlier in the day. That's because 2016 West Linn PG prospect Payton Pritchard revealed his intention to announce his college decision next Monday.
Pritchard, a top 50 prospect by virtually every recruiting service, is being courted by some of the top programs in the country. Common thought is that Gonzaga, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Villanova have the best odds of landing the talented guard. Pritchard had the following to say about some of his finalists per OregonLive:
Gonzaga: "They produce a lot of point guards, they win games and they always make it to the tournament."
Oklahoma: "Oklahoma - my family is there. It's great facilities. I love the coaching staff and the campus is beautiful."
Oregon: "It's my home town. It's where I'm from. It's a big program and Coach Altman is a great coach."
Villanova: "I love Jay Wright. I like the coaching staff. I like the players and the way they play."
It is worth noting that Pritchard just returned from a visit to Oklahoma, a school that his family has major ties to. That said, as we reported in October, Pritchard was at Gonzaga for an unofficial visit so he is also very familiar with the Spokane campus:
West Linn PG Payton Pritchard has emerged as the priority PG for Gonzaga over the past six months. The elite PG got a good look at the program two weeks ago when he made an unofficial visit to Spokane.
"I enjoyed the players and coaches a lot," he emphasized. "They showed me how they play and how I would fit in. They also told me more about the academics. The atmosphere around the team and the city is awesome."
The visit was just the next step in a relationship that has been building fast over the past year.
"That's how it feels and that is what they have been telling me," Pritchard said of being the priority for Gonzaga. "Our relationship builds everyday and I'm planning to take another visit there in January to see a game."
A commitment from Pritchard would be monumental for the staff to lock in their point guard depth chart for years to come. With Josh Perkins set to take over for Kevin Pangos after this season and Jesse Wade hitting campus in 2017, it is clear the staff wants another prospect to come in and secure that position. As we have seen, Mark Few has been prone to putting two point guards in the lineup to run his offense so Pritchard would definitely get some playing time right away.
It will be difficult to lure him away from Oregon and Oklahoma, however, as those schools obviously have very personal ties to Payton. Gonzaga does have some local angle working for them, however, as two of the best prospects from that state in recent years, Kyle Wiltjer and Silas Melson, are suiting up for the Bulldogs this season.