There have been rumblings for months that DeAndre Ayton, the consensus top overall basketball prospect in the Class of 2017, could skip college for a professional season overseas. The rumors were part and parcel of the larger question of why only Kansas had showed direct interest in him, leading to the kind of speculation that raises larger questions.
Now Ayton — who is competing at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C. — is speaking up on his own behalf, insisting that he’s headed to college while admitting that both Kentucky and Arizona have stepped up their interest in him competing in their uniforms in the future.
“There’s no overseas,” Ayton told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “I’m going to college. It’s a must. … I just want to go to college and get the experience. I really want to win a national championship. Get a chance, even though I’m one and done. I would love to be in that atmosphere.
“I’m not really worried about (other schools’ hesitation to recruit Ayton) right now. I’m still in high school. I got one more year. I’ve got a lot of unfinished business.”
While his insistence on a personal collegiate future was the clear headliner from the interview, his comments about both Arizona — he liked being told that he should have a goal of being the school’s first No. 1 NBA Draft pick — and Kentucky — “They build NBA players,” — make it clear that Kansas’ early entry in the Ayton sweepstakes don’t make them prohibitive favorites to land his signature.
Rather, the formal recruiting for the Bahamas-born 7-footer is just heating up.