Former Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns standout Elfrid Payton is close to returning to his current professional team, the New York Knicks.

Payton, who has missed the last 17 games with a hamstring injury, is scheduled to return to full practice on Wednesday and could see action in Thursday night's game against the Denver Nuggets.

Payton will be battling for playing time at the Knicks' point guard position, along with Dennis Smith, Jr. and Frank Ntilikina, who is now sidelined.

The 25-year old Payton in 42 games for the Pelicans last season, averaging 10.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.6 assists-per-game, after spending parts of four seasons with the Orlando Magic, as well as 19 games with the Phoenix Suns.

In four games with the Knicks this season Payton is averaging 8.0 points, to go along with 3.0 rebounds and 3.8 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 Magic with the 10th-overall pick.

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