Gary Payton is one of the NBA’s all-time best at the point guard position. Known mostly for his days as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics, Payton was as a relentless defender, a trait which dates back all the way to his college playing days at Oregon State.
Payton is without question the Beavers greatest player, earning a spot on the First-Team All-American roster in 1990. And while he will undoubtedly stay near the top of the record books at his Alma Mater, son Gary Payton II, is looking to carve out his own college basketball legacy for the Beavers.
The Oregon State men’s basketball team hasn’t been the picture of success over the last two decades. The school’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 1990. In fact, the Beavers haven’t even reached the NIT since 2005.
Things took a turn for the better during the 2014-15 season when new head coach, Wayne Tinkle, guided the team to a 17-14 overall record, which included a win over Pac-12 rival Arizona. A lot of that success can be attributed to Gary Payton II, whose leadership and tremendous defensive play helped pace the Beavers.
Defense is Payton II’s true calling card. He is the reigning Pac-12 defensive player of the year. He also lead the Pac -12 Conference in steals with 3.1 per contest.
What’s most surprising is at only 6’3 Payton II was second on the Beavers with 1.4 blocks per game, and a team leading 7.5 rebounds.
While his defensive game is on par with some of the best in collegiate basketball, his offensive skill set needs to be refined.
Despite averaging 13.4 points per contest last season, Gary Payton Sr. believes his son needs to develop further on the opposite side of the ball to become a true all-around player.
“He needs a midrange jump shot,” Payton Sr. said after a win over Washington last season. “He needs to work on his shooting. Defensively, I am hard to impress, but he impresses me because he gets his hands on so much. But offensively, he needs to be more aggressive.”
While Tinkle has assembled a fine recruiting class that includes his son, Tres, but there is no doubt that Gary Payton II is the heart and soul of the Oregon State Beavers.
He might not ever be able to escape his father’s shadow, but leading the school to its first NCAA Tournament win 25 years is still quite impressive.