Elfrid Payton Earns Second Athlete of the Month Honor park
Elfrid Payton, a star junior for the UL-Lafayette men's basketball team, has been selected as the Greater New Orleans Amateur Athlete of the Month for March. It is his second time earning the honor. The monthly award-winners are chosen in voting by the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Payton led the Ragin' Cajuns to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005 by being the key in their Sun Belt Tournament Championship. The junior from Gretna and John Ehret averaged 18.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists over seven total March games in which ULL went 5-2. After closing the regular season with two wins in three games to clinch the all-important third seed in the Sun Belt Tournament, he led the Cajuns to tournament wins over UT-Arlington (91-85), No. 2 seed Western Kentucky (73-72) and top-seed Georgia State (82-81 in overtime). In the upset of Western Kentucky, Payton's back-to-back hoops in the final 90 seconds clinched the victory, while he tallied six points in overtime to key the Georgia State victory and the NCAA Tournament bid. Despite losing their first-round NCAA Tournament game to third-seed Creighton (77-66), Payton and the Cajuns rallied to take a second-half lead before the Blue Jays pulled away – the junior tallied 24 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three steals in the game.
The Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year was named to the Lou Henson All-America Team, which recognizes the top mid-major players in the country. Also in March, he was named a finalist for the Lefty Driesell Award for the top defensive player in the nation – an honor he would go on to win in April. The junior was the only player in Division I to average 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals on the season. Payton scored in double figures in 32 of 35 games played, including 14 games with 20 or more points and four 30-point performances.
Payton was also named the Greater New Orleans Amateur Athlete of the Month for July of 2013 when he helped the United States to the Gold Medal at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.
The March competition was very tight as a number of basketball stars capped outstanding seasons. Junior Kalani Brown from the Salmen High girls' basketball team and Malik Crowfield, a sophomore for the Riverside Academy boys' basketball team, both led their teams to state titles while earning state player of the year honors. At the collegiate level, Loyola's Jasmine Brewer led the Wolf Pack to the NAIA National Quarterfinals and a final No. 15 ranking. A pair of spring sport stars was also nominated for the honor as Cabrini High School softball ace Karli Perque was 17-1 overall and 6-0 in district Kade Granier from Destrehan High baseball was 4-0 during March with wins against Barbe, Rummel, Brother Martin and Hahnville.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee has been selecting an Amateur Athlete of the Month each month since 1958. The athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region in order to be eligible. Each of the monthly award winners will be honored in the summer at the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.