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Louisiana Lafayette's Elfrid Payton Set to Lead Team USA

The Louisiana Lafayette star is set to take showcase his talents on the international level later this month. Can the Ragin Cajun's Elfrid Payton thrive among the world's best?

Gregory Shamus

A year ago many people may have thought Elfrid Payton was a character off of Lord of the Rings (a cheap shot, I know), but now the Louisiana-Lafayette guard is making waves on the college basketball national scene in the offseason.

We profiled Payton recently as one of the top ten point guards in the mid-major ranks and now the Ragin' Cajun finds himself on Billy Donovan's U19 United States team set to compete in the FIBA World Championship in the Czech Republic later this month.

Payton, a rising junior, is the lone mid-major member on the U19 team but is one of the most experienced players. He has averaged nearly 30 minutes per game in 55 games throughout his career while joining a team that features three prep players and a couple of guys coming off monster freshman years like Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon, Virginia's Mike Tobey, and others.

So can Payton's experience at the Sun Belt and mid-major level propel him on the world's stage and is perhaps the exposure and experience another step towards the NBA? Payton averaged nearly 16 points and 6 assists per game this past year and resident stat nerd Ben Miraski tells me that Elfrid had a HOOPWAR of 7 last year.

No matter how you cut it, Elfrid's journey may be one of the most fun to watch since Frodo left the Shire. He is certainly a player to watch over the next year and hopefully of Louisiana Lafayette fans he's a player who can capture the nation and bring his team along for the ride, much like Lehigh's CJ McCollum.