December 29, 2014

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Earlier this season against Mississippi Valley State, Oregon State guard Gary Payton II appeared to swoop in out of nowhere for a one-handed put-back dunk.

The fans at Gill Coliseum were momentarily stunned before erupting into cheers. It was almost like old times, when the junior guard's famous father electrified crowds while confounding opponents.

But make no mistake, the younger Payton is his own man.

''We're two totally different players. We play two different ways; he played his way when he was here and I'm playing my way,'' he said.

Eleven games into his first season with the Beavers, Payton is attempting to build his own legacy. Earlier this month he had a triple-double in a 71-43 win over Grambling State, with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

It was the just the second triple-double in Oregon State history. And yep, you guessed it, Gary Payton got the first one back in the 1988-89 season when he had 20 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists against Portland at Gill.

The Paytons are believed to be the first father-son duo to both have triple-doubles for the same school.

The younger Payton leads Oregon State (8-3) with an average of 12.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists this season. He leads the Pac-12, and ranks 10th in the nation, in steals with an average of 2.9 a game.

Payton has been a highlight on a rebuilding team under first-year coach Wayne Tinkle. The Beavers had just four returning players and held open tryouts in October to help round out a roster. They currently have just nine scholarship players.

Payton was one of the newcomers after transferring from Salt Lake Community College, where he averaged 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game last season.

''My strengths are rebounding, you know, facilitating, getting other people involved,'' he said. ''I'm starting to get better off the dribble and offensive-wise. But I'd say rebounding is my biggest strength. Sometimes I don't think I have as many as I do. It just comes natural.''

Payton's dad is the most celebrated player in Oregon State history, and still holds school records for career points, assists and steals. He is the Pac-12's all-time leader in assists (938) and steals (321).

A consensus All-American, the elder Payton led the Beavers to their last NCAA tournament appearance in 1990. He went on to an 18-year career in the NBA. Known as ''The Glove,'' he spent 13 seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics.

''I'm very proud of him. He's doing a wonderful job,'' the proud father said. ''He's playing the way that I like him to play. He's playing all-around basketball. That's what every team needs, all-around basketball players, who can run the point, who can play the two (position), who can rebound the basketball and who can defend.''

Payton didn't push his son to follow in his footsteps. And the younger Payton said he didn't even really start getting into the game until he was a junior in high school.

''I didn't really go at him like that. Now that I come to the games and he hears me on the sidelines, I tell him things like what he's doing or not doing,'' the elder Payton said. ''After the games I'll give him my comments and tell him what he needs to know, what he needs to look at and what he needs to work at. And then we leave it alone, we move on.''

Tinkle would like to see Payton emerge as a leader.

''He's been really big for us,'' Tinkle said. ''He's played a lot of minutes, he's our leading scorer, he's our leading rebounder. We've got to get him more comfortable at giving leadership more consistently and really adopt a mentality of going hard every day.''

Those stumbles are there for the young Payton. In the Beavers' last game, a 60-52 loss at Quinnipiac, Payton was held scoreless and fouled out. Oregon State has one more non-conference game, Tuesday night against UC Santa Barbara, before opening the Pac-12 season at rival Oregon on Saturday.

Payton admitted he's got a lot to work on, but he talks mostly about the team collectively. The big challenges still lie in front of the Beavers in a conference that includes three ranked teams: Arizona, Utah and Washington.

''Once we get to the Pac-12 it's a whole other level, it's going to be a battle once we get into conference,'' he said. ''But we're learning more every day, and it's up to us.''

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