Tag: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns

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A breakdown of every college player at adidas Nations

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LONG BEACH, California — Since adidas Nations featured so many quality college basketball players, the CBT staff has received a lot of questions about how certain guys played that haven’t received a lot of publicity from the event. So Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips decided to give quick breakdowns of each of the college players in attendance last week.

Click here for CBT’s coverage from adidas Nations

Bryce Alford, UCLA: Thrived in catch-and-shoot situations but struggled as a point guard against good competition. (SP)

BeeJay Anya, N.C. State: Having lost nearly 60 pounds since the start of his freshman year, Anya was far more active on both ends of the floor. (RJ)

Jabari Bird, Cal:  The sophomore got stronger as a scorer as the week went and played hard at both ends of the floor. (SP)

Jonah Bolden, UCLA: Bolden had his moments on both ends of the floor, but the level of consistency will need to improve. (RJ)

Perry Ellis, Kansas: Tried to showcase his perimeter ability too much but when he operated extended elbow and in Ellis was tough to stop. (SP)

AJ English, Iona: English played well, knocking down shots and playing solid defense throughout the weekend. (RJ)

Shaq Goodwin, Memphis: One of the more disappointing players in attendance as Goodwin showed bad hands and not enough weight and strength to stop bigger post players. (SP)

Josh Gray, LSU: Gray had some issues finishing in traffic, but his ability to break down defenses off the dribble was on display and that will help LSU’s big men this season. (RJ)

Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: The jumper wasn’t falling but the motor kept running for Harrell, as he showed an improved dribble-drive game from the elbow. (SP)

Zak Irvin, MichiganIrvin struggled to knock down catch-and-shoot looks, and there were also issues when it came to creating his own looks. (RJ)

Stanley Johnson, Arizona: The freshman ran through a bevy of tough pro and college wings and handled himself well because of his advanced skill level and college-ready frame. (SP)

Chris Jones, Louisville: Jones did a good job of getting his teammates involved, and he was also aggressive on the defensive end of the floor. (RJ)

Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: Kaminsky tried too hard to showcase his pick-and-pop ability for NBA scouts and wasn’t hitting shots while also neglecting his post game. (SP)

Shawn Long, Louisiana: Long struggled mightily with the athleticism of the big men he was asked to compete against. (RJ)

Kevon Looney, UCLA:  The only college counselor who didn’t participate in the three-day event due to injury. (SP)

Jordan Mathews, Cal: As with college teammate Jabari Bird, got better as the week went along and finally started to knock in some perimeter jumpers. (SP)

E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island: Matthews is still a work in progress when it comes to running the point, but he played well on both ends of the floor all weekend long. (RJ)

Jordan Mickey, LSU: While he had a quiet weekend offensively, Mickey did a good job on the boards and also as a weak-side defender. (RJ)

Austin Nichols, Memphis: Nichols is skilled as a pick-and-pop guy and showed more willingness to play against physicality, but he’s still largely a non-factor against tough interior presences unless he uses his face-up game. (SP)

Landry Nnoko, Clemson: Nnoko had a tough week in Long Beach, struggling on both ends of the floor. (RJ)

Kelly Oubre, Kansas: Only played for the last day of camp, but the smooth, lefty freshman had a great outing with Stanley Johnson guarding him (6-for-7 from 3PT) and appeared very confident on the offensive end. (SP)

Tony Parker, UCLA: One of the revelations of the weekend, Parker scored well around the basket and proved to be difficult for opponents to keep off the offensive glass. (RJ)

Terran Petteway, Nebraska:  Outstanding week for one of the Big Ten’s best players as he scored aggressively from multiple levels and defended hard on the perimeter. (SP)

Norman Powell, UCLA: Powell was the best performer at the camp, doing a very good job of finding looks offensively and keeping his man in check on the other end. (RJ)

Terry Rozier, Louisville: Looked like one of the best prospects in attendance at times but was prone to over-penetrating and getting himself into tough spots. (SP)

Shavon Shields, Nebraska: Shields got better as the weekend progressed, doing a better job of knocking down open looks and also passing the basketball. (RJ)

Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona: Just an average camp for the junior big man as he walled up well on the defensive end but wasn’t much of a factor on the offensive end. (SP)

Brad Waldow, Saint Mary’s: Waldow played hard but there were multiple occasions in which he struggled with the athleticism on the court. (RJ)

Derrick Walton, Michigan: Walton generally played good overall floor games and operated well in the pick-and-roll, but his shot went in-and-out for much of the week. (SP)

Elfrid Payton emerges as the 2014 NBA Draft’s biggest sleeper

Elfrid Payton, Keith Appling
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CHICAGO — Elfrid Payton is the most polarizing prospect in the 2014 NBA Draft.

If you’ve browsed through the litany of mock drafts in advance of Thursday night’s draft, you’ve probably seen the Louisiana-Lafayette point guard’s name everywhere from the top ten to the 20s — and every pick in between.

Plenty of scouts and draft pundits have called the 6-foot-3 Payton a sleeper in this draft — thanks in-part to his small-school upbringing and tremendous athleticism — but the soft-spoken point guard is confident about what he’ll bring to the team that selects him — wherever that may be.

“I think (I’m) the best point guard in the draft; just a leader,” Payton told NBCSports.com in Chicago. “(I’m) somebody that’s going to try to bring a winning culture and be somebody that is going to make other players around him better.”

As a sophomore, Payton put up good numbers for Louisiana-Lafayette, but many weren’t familiar with him in the college basketball world. That changed when Elfrid was a surprise addition to the USA U19 team that won gold last summer at the FIBA World Championships in Prague. Payton acknowledged that his star-studded supporting cast, filled with six McDonald’s All-Americans, had little idea about who he was or what he could do on the court, but the point guard won the starting point guard role for Billy Donovan’s squad and made a big impression on the team.

“It was cool, man. Everybody not to know me and just go in there and do well and wind up starting on that team. That was great for me. I think they were definitely surprised,” Payton said of his USA Basketball experience. “It helped a lot. Giving me a little bit of recognition. I learned a lot from those coaches and from my teammates that played there. It was big for me.”

While the basketball part of the equation came natural to Payton, Donovan worked with the guard to be more of a floor leader, something Payton credits for helping his game as a junior.

“The biggest thing (Donovan) taught me was about being a vocal leader and not just leading by example. I was able to take that back to my teammates this season and moving forward now,” Payton said.

Because of Payton’s leadership and overall play at the point guard position, the Ragin’ Cajuns made a surprise appearance in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, as they knocked off favored Georgia State in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game.

Louisiana-Lafayette fell in the Round of 64 to Creighton, but Payton opened eyes with a 24-point, 8-rebound performance in which he also stuffed the stat sheet with three assists, three steals and two blocks. It was a typical effort from the junior as he averaged 19.2 points, 6 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game during the 2013-14 season.

Because of his propensity to fill up a box score, coupled with his athleticism and inconsistent shooting, Payton has been compared favorably to Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. Payton shot 50 percent from the field as a junior, but he was only 25 percent from the three-point line and 60 percent from the free-throw line. As a former Kentucky point guard, Rondo was also a streaky perimeter shooter, as he shot 27 percent from three-point land and 57 percent from the free-throw line as a sophomore in his final season in Lexington.

Thanks in-part to his inconsistent shooting, Rondo slipped to No. 21 on draft night in 2006, but later blossomed into the starting point guard of the NBA-champion Celtics in 2008.

Payton takes pride in being compared to the four-time All-Star because of Rondo’s tenacity and willingness to make others around him better.

“The way (Rondo) plays defense, he gets his hands on a lot of balls,” Payton said. “He gets a lot of people involved. Most importantly, he gets other players around him better too. That’s what I really like (about him).”

Ed Isaacson of NBA Draft Blog also sees some similarities between Payton and Rondo and because Rondo has thrived in the league, Isaacson believes Payton is not as likely to fall in the draft as Rondo once did.

“I’m not very big on comparisons, but this is a case where I can see where it comes from and agree in some ways with it,” Isaacson said to NBCSports.com. “Payton, like Rondo, is capable of doing almost everything his team needs from him. They both even have the same major weakness — perimeter shooting. I think where the comparison is at its best is on the defensive end, where both can be pests on the perimeter, force opponents into mistakes, and have no problem getting involved on the boards. I think the fact that Rondo turned out to be a very good NBA player has eased the way that many teams are looking at what Payton can do, and you won’t find the same polarization on his style of play.”

It also doesn’t hurt that another small-school guard, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, has found immediate NBA success after four years at Weber State. Payton acknowledges that Lillard is another guard that he admires and Lillard has even taken to Twitter to back Payton’s game.

“My coach gave me a lot of articles about him last year and even more this year. That’s definitely someone I look up to,” Payton said of Lillard.

The comparisons for Payton may be favorable, but he acknowledged that he still has a long ways to go to be mentioned in the same breath as those All-Star caliber point guards in the NBA.

“I think I’m ready to handle it. I think there’s going to be some challenges but we all have the same challenges ahead of us,” Payton said. “I always have a chip on my shoulder and coming from a small school, that makes it a little bit bigger.”

Reports: OK State transfer Brian Williams is headed to Louisiana-Lafayette

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Oklahoma State transfer Brian Williams will attend Louisiana-Lafayette for his final season of eligibility, according to multiple reports.

Williams averaged 6.2 points and 3.4 boards for the Cowboys this past season, but left the program at the same time as Marcus Smart and Markel Brown after seeing his playing tie cut down the stretch of the season.

Williams is a redshirt junior and graduated this semester, meaning that he will be able to play immediately for the Ragin’ Cajuns. That’s big news for head coach Bob Marlin. UL is coming off of a trip to the NCAA tournament, and while they return center Shawn Long, who averaged a double-double his first two seasons, they lose Elfrid Payton, who declared for the NBA Draft and could end up being taken in the first round.

Williams isn’t going to be replacing Payton’s production offensively, but he’s a next-level athlete on the wing that will really help on the defensive end of the floor.

Williams is a native of Baton Rouge, La.