DeAndre Ayton is the No. 1 overall basketball prospect in the class of 2017 according to Rivals.com, Scout.com, ESPN and 247Sports.
It’s rare for all of the major recruiting services to have one player at the top of their respective rankings, and common sense would say that just about every major college program in the country would be going after such a universally touted prospect.
That’s not the case with Ayton.
“Right now, it’s Kansas. That’s it,” the 7-footer said after the first night of Nike EYBL games here Friday night.
Ayton — a native of the Bahamas now playing for Hillcrest Academy in Arizona — says KU is the only school that’s even recruiting him at the moment.
There have been rumors in recruiting circles that he plans to skip college and jump straight from high school to professional basketball. There have also been questions about his academic status.
Ayton said Friday night that neither of those concerns are legitimate.
“They think I’m not going (to college),” he said. “But I have to go to college. My mom wants me to go to college, and that’s what I’m looking for. … No eligibility concerns. I’m NCAA eligible, so I don’t know what the problem is.”
In the past, Ayton has mentioned UK and Duke — along with Kansas — as the three schools at the top of his list, but it appears that neither the Wildcats nor Blue Devils are making him a priority at this point.
Ayton seemed miffed by the lack of interest, but he insisted that there are no hard feelings and welcomed other schools to start recruiting him.
“I really don’t care who’s not recruiting me,” he said. “I’m just going to stay on top of my game and try to be better.”
Dreaming of Duke
Tremont Waters has had a pretty big recruiting week.
After a solid showing on the Nike EYBL circuit last weekend in Brooklyn, the 5-11 point guard hosted coaches from Kentucky and Duke and landed scholarship offers from both schools.
Both were special, but it sounds like one in particular was a little more so.
“I used to always watch Duke. Like, a lot,” Waters said. “For what reason, I don’t know. I just liked Duke. For my dream school to offer me, it’s a dream come true.”
Still, he called the UK offer “amazing” and will be seriously considering the Cats moving forward.
“Kentucky’s up there now, too,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough choice out of all my colleges now that those two came in.”
Waters mentioned Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Stanford, UConn and Virginia as other schools that have been recruiting him. He is the No. 11 point guard and No. 48 overall prospect in the class of 2017, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Five-star shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. listed UK, Duke, Arizona, Michigan State and UCLA as the schools that are recruiting him the hardest at the moment.
Trent — the son of the former Ohio University standout of the same name — also delivered a recruiting pitch that even John Calipari would be proud of.
“It’s a great school,” Trent said. “They’ve got great things going on there. It’s Kentucky, obviously. It’s really NBA University. It preps you. Everything there looks like an NBA facility. Calipari runs everything like the NBA.
“So, really, if that’s your goal, that’s the place.”
Duke is widely considered the favorite in Trent’s recruitment, though he said that’s not necessarily true.
“I keep hearing that, as well,” he said with a smile. “I would say it’s one of my favorites, yes. What I like about it is the tradition they have. Coach K — the system he’s set up over the years, it’s crazy. He has nothing but success. And when you see somebody having success, you want to be a part of that success.
“So, as I take down my list and stuff like that, that’s a lot of the stuff to factor into it.”
There’s no timetable for Trent’s college decision, though he did say he is planning to attend Big Blue Madness in the fall alongside friend and fellow top-10 recruit Wendell Carter.
Trent also attended last year’s Madness event at Kentucky.
“The stadium was rocking,” he said.
As is always the case, Nike spared no expense with its signage at this weekend’s EYBL event.
The exterior of Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse was decorated with banners and posters of several players who used to star on the Nike circuit and have since moved on to the NBA. There was more of the same inside the gym itself.
Two of the seven courts on which games are being played this weekend are basically billboard’s for John Calipari’s one-and-done success.
Court 4, where top UK target Hamidou Diallo is scheduled to play Sunday morning, features three gigantic banners of former UK forward Trey Lyles.
Over on Court 6, where Calipari watched UK targets John Petty and Gary Trent Jr. play Friday night, three oversized banners of Devin Booker overlook the court.