In surprising fashion today, Hillcrest Academy 7-foot-1 senior post DeAndre Ayton gave an early verbal commitment to the University of Arizona Wildcats - giving head coach Sean Miller his first #1 nationally rated player commitment ever, and also his biggest commitment ever.
Ayton chose Arizona over Kentucky and Kansas (in no particular order). As a result, Ayton gave the Arizona Wildcats hope for a future final four appearance. The question and potential problem can be the fact that Ayton not go to college at all, but his commitment on Tuesday proved that he plans to go to Tucson before the NBA.
And the Wildcats fan base will be very proud to get Ayton. This young man has proved that he is a rare find in the high school ranks - anywhere on earth. Honestly, we have never seen a player of his size and skill level, and with his ability to run the floor and make plays in the post or from the perimeter. Ayton has developed as a player and person while at Hillcrest Academy, and after speaking with the Hillcrest staff, I am convinced that this young man will soon be in the NBA green room, and playing on ABC on the weekends in the near future.
"He has been terrific," said Hillcrest Academy program organizer Nick Weaver. "You wouldn't believe how good a kid DeAndre is. He just focus on all the things going on around him. He just loves the game."
Ayton was unreal last high school season. He had some monster games last season against top-rated national competition. After a very impressive performance in his team's big win in the HoopHall West Tournament in January over #4 ranked Advanced Prep International (TX), 69-66, Ayton then went on to destroy his competition nationally the remainder of the season. Ayton had highs of 50+ points on several occassions and grabbed 20+ rebounds also in numerous different games for Hillcrest. And he was only a junior.
As a result, every AAU/club program in America was in hot pursuit of Ayton over the spring and summer - looking to have him play for their respective teams in spring and summer competition. Many people have offered the world to Ayton, with shoe giants Nike, Adidas and Under Armour each looking to have Ayton play for one of their heavily sponsored club programs. Ayton chose to play for the Nike-sponsored California Supreme (CA) club program. Ayton would lead the Supreme to the final four of the Nike Peach Jam this summer at the Peach Jam in Augusta, Georgia.
Last high school season, according to Nick Weaver, more than 80 different division-I college coaches visited the Hillcrest Academy school's campus. Now with Ayton off the recruiting board and a host of other top-rated national talent at the school, it will be interesting to see just how many college coaches come this season. I bet a lot.