A former Louisiana Ragin' Cajun basketball star is close to returning to NBA action, after missing significant time due to injury.


A native of Gretna, Louisiana, Payton has been out since November 16, when he was injured in a game against the New York Knicks.

The 24-year old Payton has played in 6 games for the Pelicans this season, his first with the team, averaging 9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists-per-game.

Payton played three years for the Cajuns, from the 2011-2012 season through the 2013-2014 campaign.

In his junior season (2013-2014) Payton emerged as one of the top defensive players in college basketball, while also averaging 19.2 points, 5.9 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, helping lead Louisiana to the NCAA Tournament.

In that season, Payton was named first team All-Sun Belt, the conference Defensive Player of the Year, and the National Defensive Player of the Year by winning the Lefty Driesell Award.

Following his junior season, Payton declared for the NBA Draft, and was selected by the Orlando Magic with the 10th-overall pick.