By LARRY VAUGHT
Seven-footer DeAndre Ayton of Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix is the top-rated player in the 2017 recruiting class and despite some recent speculation that he might be thinking about playing overseas a year instead of going to college before turning pro, he told me back in January at the McCracken County Mustang Madness that was not the case.
“I’m going to college. My mom wants me to go to college and that it’s a must. I do not want to go overseas and she does not want me to do that,” Ayton said. “I’ am going to take risks with my career just to get to the pros a little quicker.”
He wasn’t sure then what his offseason plans would be but he’s playing in Nike’s EYBL on a California team to give recruiters even more chances to watch him play. For months it has seemed that Kentucky, Arizona, Duke, UCLA and Kansas are his top schools, but he has said for months that he won’t limit his list until the summer and then set his college visits.
Kentucky coach John Calipari watched him play over the weekend.
“I don’t have any favorite. I am just looking at programs and seeing who came out of programs and how they did. Anthony Davis at Kentucky, Thomas Robinson was a dog at Kansas and I am still looking at Jahlil Okafor (of Duke) and how he uses his body.
“I have not really studied John Calipari. They say he is a good coach. The relationship with me and the coach is the big thing I am looking at,” Ayton told me after playing in Somerset in February.