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First The Glove, now The Mitten: Gary Payton II commits to Oregon State

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Gary-Payton II (via Salt Lake CC)

The last time Oregon State achieved relevance in men's basketball, Gary Payton led the Beavers to the 1990 Pac-12 championship and a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

Perhaps it will be his son who helps Oregon State get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since.

Gary Payton II, a standout guard at Salt Lake Community College, verbally committed to Oregon State coach Craig Robinson on Thursday morning, the Oregonian reported. An email seeking confirmation from Salt Lake coach Todd Phillips on Thursday afternoon was not immediately returned.

The addition of Payton is notable for Oregon State for more than just the 6-foot-3 guard's basketball prowess. He represents a link to a more prosperous era of Beavers basketball as the son of the program's most recent all-American and most successful alum.

Outside of his famous name, Payton hasn't commanded a ton of attention. He wasn't heavily recruited in high school, he averaged a modest 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds as a freshman on a deep SLCC team and the other schools recruiting him besides Oregon State were reportedly Utah State, Saint Mary's and Seton Hall.

What Payton has staked his reputation on is his defense, also the trademark of his father's game. Whereas his father was known as "The Glove" for his smother brand of defense, Payton has nicknamed himself "The Mitten" and has emulated his dad's penchant for guarding the opposing team's top perimeter scorer.

"Defense is in our blood," Payton told the Deseret News in January. "I don't know why, but I love defense. I love stopping the other guy. I love it when the team needs a big stop."

Oregon State certainly could use a defensive stopper after surrendering more points per possession than any Pac-12 team last season and yielding 78 points in a season-opening loss to Coppin State on Sunday night. He'll have an opportunity for playing time right away next season with Roberto Nelson graduating and only Challe Barton and Hallice Cook returning from the guard rotation.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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