Ragin' Cajuns Payton invited to NYC for NBA Draft _lowres

Advocate file photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- UL-Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton, a potential first-round NBA draft pick, has become known for his defense.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton is one of a handful of NBA hopefuls who were invited to attend the NBA draft on Thursday in Brooklyn.

The draft will be televised live on ESPN from the Barclays Center.

Payton, who played at John Ehret High School, looks to become the third Ragin’ Cajun to be selected in the first round and the first since Kevin Brooks, who was selected 18th overall by Denver in 1991. Andrew Toney, a two-time NBA All-Star, was the first UL-Lafayette player drafted in the first round when he was picked eighth overall by Philadelphia in 1980.

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 are fourth in school history, trailing Bo Lamar (802, 1969-73), Tim Thompson (722, 1957-61) and Toney (690, 1976-80).

Payton averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game to lead UL-Lafayette to a 23-12 record and its first berth to the NCAA tournament since 2005. He had double-figure scoring in 32 of 35 games played, including 14 games with 20 or more points and four 30-point performances. He also attempted a school-record 302 free throws, breaking the previous mark of 273 set by Dean Church in 1964-65.

Payton was honored as the 2014 Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the Lou Henson All-America team. He also earned first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors, was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, and was chosen as 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.

Payton 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. He 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. Payton 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.