Nation’s top-ranked HS basketball player DeAndre Ayton commits to Arizona

The college basketball world received some unexpected news on Tuesday, when DeAndre Ayton, the top-ranked player in this year’s senior class, announced his decision to attend Arizona over Kansas and Kentucky. The 7-foot-1 center who is originally from the Bahamas, is set to begin his senior year at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix this fall. He would enroll in Tuscon for the 2017-2018 school year.

Ayton, who is considered one of the best high school basketball prospects at his position, is already the size of an NBA big man and possesses the fluid athleticism of a guy a foot shorter. Ayton is a rare high school athlete who can control the paint on the defensive end and still be a threat on the offensive end with his ability to score from the post or step outside and hit a 15-foot jumper. Many draft experts are already projecting him as the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The question for Arizona fans — and anyone who has followed Ayton’s recruitment — is whether he will ever actually step foot on a college campus. Ayton played part of his high school career at Balboa City High School, a school which had no athletic programs prior to Ayton’s arrival, before he transferred to Hillcrest, where the academic credentials have since been called into question. As of last winter, only Kansas was recruiting him, with many schools fearing that Ayton wouldn’t be able to get eligible through the NCAA’s clearinghouse. Many have suggested that he might play overseas for a season before entering the draft if NCAA eligibility were an issue, however, Ayton recently put those rumors to rest.

In an interview with ESPN, Ayton said he had no preliminary plans to go overseas. "No, none at all," said Ayton. "My family says college is a must."

Only time will tell if Ayton actually ends up at Arizona.

But for now, he’s a Wildcat.