Payton, Long earn preseason hoops honors
With the start of the 2013-14 season just days away, Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long earned additional preseason accolades as both were named to the Sun Belt Conference Preseason team.
Additionally, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns were picked to finish in a fourth place tie with league newcomer Georgia State when the Sun Belt released the results of its annual preseason coaches’ poll Wednesday.
Payton, a 6-2, 180-pound junior guard from Gretna, is coming off a breakout year, averaging a team-best 15.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game. He finished the year leading the Sun Belt in both steals and assists, ranking 12th nationally in steals and 38th in assists. He also was fourth in the league in scoring.
A starter in all 33 games, Payton ranked third in school history with 80 steals last year, while his 181 assists were fourth-best. With two full seasons to play, he already ranks 18th all-time with 117 steals and 278 assists.
During the summer, Payton earned a starting spot on the USA Basketball squad that won the gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.
“Elfrid has continued to make progress month-by-month over the last year,” Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin said in a university release. “At this time last year, he wasn’t on any of the three preseason teams, but he went on to be a unanimous first team pick. We are excited about his progress and are anxious to see how his experiences over the summer will help the team this year.”
Long, a 6-9, 243-pound forward and former Morgan City High School standout, was the dominant big man inside last year for the Cajuns, averaging 15.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. He ranked 12th nationally and second in the Sun Belt in rebounding and was fourth in the league and 60th in the nation in blocked shots.
Long ranked sixth in the nation with 18 double-doubles and has scored 20 points or more in a game nine times. He led all freshmen in the nation in rebounding and was ninth among freshmen in both scoring and blocks.
“Shawn has quietly gone about improving himself over the summer, and I am impressed with the results. He has changed his body, gotten stronger and leaner, which has helped him to improve his mobility,” Marlin said.