While basketball fans around the country inched closer and closer to the edge of their seats and refreshed all of their social media timelines constantly waiting to see which school consensus No. 1 overall player Marvin Bagley III would pick and whether he’d reclassify from 2018 to 2017, another elite player quietly made a big decision on the latter question.
Eric Ayala, a four-star point guard, decided to stay put in the 2018 class and transferred from Putnam Science Academy (Putnam, Conn.) to IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.).
“Not too many people knew about it, but I was giving serious consideration to going to 2017 and going on to college now,” Ayala said. “The coaches recruiting me left it up to me, and it was a hard decision.”
Ayala said that if he would’ve decided to reclassify to 2017 he would’ve picked between Ohio State and Oregon.
“They presented the best chance to play immediately,” Ayala said. “Now that I’m staying put in this class everyone’s back on the same level.”
Currently, Ayala’s list stands at nine: Syracuse, Oregon, Miami, Georgetown, Indiana, Ohio State, LSU, Arizona and Maryland.
“I just wanted to go through the whole process and enjoy it,” Ayala said. “I feel like I deserve that and it will only help me make the best possible decision. When I finally decided to stay in 2018 I knew I made the right decision because it felt right.”
This summer, Ayala led WE-R1 (Del.) to its second consecutive Under Armour Association title, averaging 18 points and eight assists a game. Last season, Ayala averaged 19 points, five rebounds and five assists at Putnam Science.
“If I had to grade my play this summer I’d give myself an A-,” Ayala said. “I feel like I could’ve brought it every game a little more. That’s something I want to do this season. My boy Trey (Duval), who’s at Duke now, went there last year and he had nothing but good things to say about IMG.”
There he’ll team up with five-star shooting guard Anfernee Simons to form one of the country’s most talented backcourts.
“I’m excited to get there and start working,” Ayala said. “I definitely feel like we’ve got the most talented backcourt. The whole summer raised me confidence level even more; knowing I could’ve been playing on the college level now if I wanted to shows me how far I’ve come. It makes me want to put in even more work. This season is gonna be fun.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY