LEXINGTON, Ky. – DeAndre Ayton, the No. 1 basketball recruit in the Class of 2017, committed to Arizona over Kentucky and Kansas during a live-TV announcement on ESPN’s Sports Center on Tuesday night.
His decision came earlier than expected and the school of choice was a bit of a surprise because the Jayhawks hand long been considered the favorites to land the 7-footer many believe is a future No. 1 overall NBA draft pick. John Calipari and the Wildcats had backed away from his recruitment in the spring over academic concerns but jumped back into the mix this summer.
A native of the Bahamas who began his high school career in California, Ayton moved to Hillcrest Prep in Arizona last year and admitted that some of his classwork slipped through the cracks in the transition. He said at Peach Jam this summer that he’d been taking online courses to catch up.
He said then he had been in contact with the NCAA and was “on track” to be eligible to play college basketball in 2016-17. In an interview with ESPN on Tuesday, Ayton said that proximity to his mother, who has moved to Arizona with him for high school, played a part in his decision.
Interestingly, despite signing the No. 1 or 2 recruiting class nationally every year since he came to Kentucky in 2009, Calipari hasn’t landed the top overall player in the 247Sports Composite since getting Nerlens Noel in 2012.
The last five No. 1 players in that ranking: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) in 2013, Jahlil Okafor (Duke) in 2014, Ben Simmons (LSU) in 2015, Josh Jackson (Kansas) in 2016 and now Ayton to Arizona.
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