There’s no shortage of love for the game of DeAndre Ayton. The 7-footer is a near-unanimous choice as the top overall prospect in the Class of 2017. He’s a power forward with strength, length and profound versatility, making himself as close to a can’t miss college prospect as one will ever find. With his skills and physical frame, logic would dictate that every program and their proverbial grandmother would want Ayton on their roster. Apparently that isn’t the case, and the reason why is a bit of a mystery.
According to 247 Sports, Ayton holds scholarship offers from Kansas, Duke and Kentucky, as well as Maryland. Strangely, despite the offers, Ayton has insisted to reporters that only Kansas is actively pursuing him at the moment.
Ayton spoke with Kyle Tucker of Gannett partner the Louisville Courier-Journal following the second stop on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, and insisted that only Kansas coach Bill Self was currently pursuing his future services, even if he didn’t understand why others had backed away.
“Right now, it’s Kansas. That’s it,” Ayton told the Courier-Journal’s Kyle Tucker. “I’m only seeing Kansas right now. I don’t know (why). The word is I’m not going to college or something, but I say college is a must.”
If Ayton has successfully diagnosed the hesitation others have faced in pursuing him, he might want to blame Thon Maker first. Maker recently had his entry to the 2016 NBA Draft confirmed, and some have claimed he is likely to be selected in the first round.
Given Ayton’s age at the time of the 2017 Draft, 19, he may in fact believe he will be eligible for the 2017 NBA Draft. Regardless of that potential status, Ayton insists that he plans to go to college and play at least his freshman season there. And Ayton also insists that concerns about the academic bona fides of Hillcrest Academy, where he attends school and plays basketball in Arizona, have little to worry about with him; the 7-footer is reportedly on schedule with his coursework and grades, according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander.
After the Thon Maker saga, some of those coaches simply may not believe him, and it’s hard to know what would change their mind.