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Men’s Basketball: ‘Dream come true’ – Payton drafted in top 10 – video of UL NBA draft party

Chad Washington, The Advertiser, June 26, 2014


Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette) reacts after being selected as the number ten overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports(Photo: Brad Penner, Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

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The people who packed the Alumni House on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette started to get frustrated Thursday night. The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings passed on Elfrid Payton with their picks in the first round of the NBA Draft.

But then, as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver came to the podium in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., a hush came over the room. Then the crowd went wild.

Silver announced that Payton, the 6-foot-3 guard for UL, was drafted with the 10th pick to the Philadelphia 76ers. His former teammates screamed with excitement and beaming with pride that Payton, who led the Cajuns to the Sun Belt Conference tournament title, became a top-10 pick.

Click her for video.

"I am elated. I am ecstatic. Being around a guy like Elfrid and being close to him, a guy like that who works hard and is so humble, you can only hope for the best," junior guard Kasey Shepard said. "To see him get drafted is a dream come true for everybody.

"I wish he was here to celebrate with everybody. He’s going to do great things in the NBA."

After the celebration was over, Payton was quickly traded to the Orlando Magic for their first-round pick (Croatian power forward Dario Saric), a future first-round pick and a second-round pick. The Magic needed a young point guard with explosiveness, and Payton brings that to the table, along with a strong defensive game.

"Elfrid is someone who we had targeted, if we could get him," Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. "We love his toughness. We love his competitiveness. We love his desire to play defense and compete at that end of the floor."

Payton didn’t get much notice among the pro scouts until he made the Team USA Under-19 team last summer, where he helped the team win a gold medal at the FIBA World Championships.

After leading the Cajuns to a 23-12 season with a NCAA Tournament berth, Payton was seen as a second-round pick entering the draft combine in Chicago last month. After that and other workouts, his stock started to rise into the middle of the first round, and kept on rising.

UL assistant coach and director of basketball operations Mike Murphy thinks that Payton’s strongest trait is the workmanlike effort that he puts into the court night in and night out.

"The biggest thing that Elfird brings to any NBA team is his work ethic," Murphy said. "If there’s somebody in front of him, they better pack a lunch, because he’s going to bring it every day. And he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Remember, he was nothing coming out of high school. He was a zero-star recruit. He has everything to prove, and he works every day to prove that."

Payton becomes the third UL player to be a first-round pick, joining Kevin Brooks (who went No. 18 to Denver in 1991) and Andrew Toney (who went No. 8 to Philadelphia in 1980).

"It’s a testament to how hard he works. People don’t know that Elfrid is a very hard worker," Shepard said. "I told him before he left that when you get your foot in the door, anything can happen. And that’s what happened. He got an opportunity, worked his butt off and went No. 10. It’s a great accomplishment."

Payton’s selection also represents a feather in the cap of the UL men’s basketball program and head coach Bob Marlin, who was in Brooklyn with Elfrid and his parents.

"This is a huge honor for the program, and it says something about the direction Coach (Bob) Marlin has us going," Murphy said. "Elfrid wouldn’t have this honor and potential if he didn’t get on the (USA) under-19 team. Coach got him on the team, Elfrid made himself a starter, and because of that, he’s a top 10 pick in the NBA."