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6A all-state basketball: Standout freshman season will do nothing to quiet the Payton Pritchard comparisons for point guard phenom

The Class 6A all-state basketball teams were determined by a vote of the state’s coaches, and we’ll be meeting the 40 honorees – 20 boys, 20 girls – one at a time over the next week. The players and coaches of the year will be revealed following the conclusion of the series. 

The hype machine started with Jackson Shelstad before his freshman season, Latest Portland News when the point guard picked up scholarship offers from four Big Sky Conference schools before donning a West Linn uniform.

While occasionally showing that yes, he's still a freshman, Shelstad for the most part showed a maturity well beyond his 14 years of age in earning second-team all-Three Rivers honors and leading the Lions to the Class 6A state tournament for the first time since 2017.

In a second-round playoff win over Mountainside that clinched West Linn's trip to the Chiles Center, Shelstad made a pull-up 30-foot bomb to end the first quarter that poured jet fuel onto an already fired-up Lions bench.

"Jackson is a special athlete," said coach Eric Viuhkola, who has acknowledged that skill-wise, Press Release Distribution Service Shelstad compares favorably with former West Linn point guard Payton Pritchard.

“He has a gear that you can’t teach. He’s extremely skilled with the ball and has exceptional range on his shot.”

With five Division I offers already in hand, Viuhkola predicts by the time Shelstad’s high school career is over, he’ll have his pick of Power 5 colleges.

Then again, maybe he’ll spurn basketball to play Division I football — he got into five varsity games last fall, making eight catches at wideout and five tackles as a cornerback.

After all, as Viuhkola was quick to point out: HE’S STILL ONLY 14 YEARS OLD!

-- by René Ferrán; photo by Leon Neuschwander 

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