There's no more prestigious award in college basketball than the John R. Wooden Award.  It's awarded to the best player in college basketball that is also showing progress toward a degree.

Only fifty players are on the watch list, and Louisiana's Elfrid Payton is one of them. 

The junior Ragin' Cajuns point guard from Gretna is one of just a couple of players from mid-major schools on that top 50 players in the country list.

Payton blossomed his sophomore season for the Cajuns, averaging 15.9 points, 5.6. rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game.  He led the Sun Belt conference in assists and steals.

But it was his play this summer with the USA Basketball U-19 team that put him on the national stage.  A late invitee to the trials, Payton not only made the team, he started every game at point guard and led his team to a gold medal.

Through his first two games this year, Payton is averaging 21.5 points, four rebounds, six assists and 3.5 steals.

Previous winners of the Wooden award include Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant.  Candice Parker and Maya Moore have won the award twice.

(information from UL sports information department was used in this story.)