Sean Miller has landed the No. 1 recruit in the country. DeAndre Ayton, a 7-foot center by way of the Bahamas, committed to the Wildcats over Kentucky and Kansas on Tuesday. He announced the decision live on SportsCenter.
Ayton is ranked as the top player in the class of 2017 by ESPN and Rivals. Scout.com once named him the best long-term prospect in high school when he was only a sophomore, ahead of Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Harry Giles and others.
Ayton is a graceful athlete for a 7-footer, blessed with a strong 245-pound frame, a 7’5.5 wingspan and touch from all over the floor. He will be a front-runner to be the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft alongside Washington commit Michael Porter Jr. and uncommitted big man Mohamed Bamba.
It’s been a long road for Ayton to get this far. He came to the United States from the Bahamas before the start of high school and enrolled at Balboa City in San Diego. He rose to notoriety as a top prospect when he put up 17 points and 18 rebounds in an exhibition game against North Carolina as a 16-year-old. He spent last season at Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix, where he planned to play with the top prospect in 2018, big man Marvin Bagley III, before Bagley transferred because of eligibility concerns.
Ayton played on Nike’s EYBL circuit this year, averaging 19.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. For more on Ayton, read our feature from April on his rise to stardom and a strangely quiet recruitment.