Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
DeAndre Ayton, Consensus No. 1 in 2017, Wide Open on Schools
ARDSLEY, NY – DeAndre Ayton is the consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2017. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Under Armour)”
ARDSLEY,N.Y. — At 7-feet, 235 pounds with a game that resembles a young Kevin Garnett, it’s not hard to see why DeAndre Ayton is the consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2017.
Ayton has the body of a future NBA big man, but is still working his way back into shape after suffering a broken patella in his right leg during his high school season.
He went for 28 points and 13 rebounds on Saturday afternoon in an 83-77 win over Louisiana Elite, but managed just 5 points and 7 rebounds Saturday night in a 67-51 loss to Sports U.
“[I compare] myself to Kevin Garnett, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson,” Ayton told SNY.tv at the Under Armour Association stop here. “I always study [their videos] and practice them on the court, too.”
Zack Jones, Ayton’s coach with Supreme Court (CA), says the big man from Balboa City (CA) has only begun to tap into his vast reservoir of talent.
“If you saw Kevin [Garnett] when he first came out of high school, they have a lot of similarities,” Jones said. “But right now, DeAndre’s jump shot and his ability to put the ball on the floor is a little bit better than what KG’s was at that time in his career.
DeAndre Ayton at the House of Sports in Ardsley New York. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Under Armour)
“I think with DeAndre, I think that right now since he’s coming back off an injury, his timing is off so he’s not quite playing at his highest level,” Jones said. “He’s probably playing around 75 percent. But his upside is tremendous because of his athleticism but also because of his competitiveness. And then he has live, live legs so it helps him be a little quicker off the bounce, to the ball, away from the ball, defensively.
“His upside is tremendous, especially if he learns how to dominate the game on the defensive side of the floor as well as the offensive side of the floor.”
As far as colleges, a Who’s Who of high-major programs are involved.
“You got Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Kentucky,” Jones said. “I mean all the big schools have really been working to talk to him.”
On June 1, colleges can begin to contact Ayton directly and he knows his phone is going to blow up.
“Yep,” he said. “I really don’t know too much about that. I’m going to wait until my junior to talk about that.”
Said Jones: “It’s going to get pretty bananas at that time. We’re expecting it but we also know where our focus needs to be.”
Jones says no visits are planned at the moment.
Ayton at the House of Sports in Ardsley New York. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Under Armour)”
“What we’re trying to do now is make sure that his foundation is solid and that’s not only basketball but in life and academically,” Jones said. “He’s doing really, really well. I think the school with the small-class settings it’s been great for him.”
As far as his future destination, “He doesn’t have a preference right now. He’s just going to look for what’s the best opportunity for him, basketball-wise, academically and then also when he gets done with school life-wise.”
In the meantime, Ayton has goals for this summer and beyond.
“I want to try to make that [Under Armour] championship in Atlanta in July,” he said, “maybe go to the [NBA] Top 100 Camp and Elite 24.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.