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Arizona basketball recruiting: DeAndre Ayton not concerned about his eligibility, hasn’t considered playing overseas

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People are skeptical if Ayton will ever make it to Tucson, but he isn’t one of them

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High School Basketball: McDonald's All-American Portraits Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Even though DeAndre Ayton has put pen to paper and signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Arizona Wildcats next season, there is still that one lingering question.

Will he actually make it to Tucson?

There has been skepticism surrounding Ayton’s ability to qualify academically at Arizona, along with concerns that he may play professionally overseas instead of attending college.

Ayton, the No. 2 player in the 2017 recruiting class, attended Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix, and its legitimacy has been questioned — so much so that schools like Duke and Kentucky hardly recruited Ayton.

When Ayton first arrived at Hillcrest, its classes were being taught through Starshine Academy, whose courses the NCAA eventually deemed to be insufficient (which was feared by 2018 five-star recruit Marvin Bagley III, leading him to leave Hillcrest).

However, Hillcrest administrators recognized a potential issue and “transferred its academics to Arizona Connections, an online high school in Gilbert that is NCAA accredited,” according to azcentral.

Therefore, Ayton is confident that he is in the clear and he told Chris Lafayette of 247Sports that he is all set academically and has not considered playing overseas.

“I don’t even know what overseas is,” Ayton told Lafayette prior to this week’s Jordan Brand Classic. “I don’t know what you do over there.”

Ayton said it’s his mother’s dream for him to attend college, and has mentioned that he will be a one-and-done at Arizona.

“I never really looked into overseas,” he said. “We never talked about that ever. We laugh about it that people say that I’m going overseas, but it doesn’t matter.”

In September, it was reported that Ayton had a 3.2 GPA and was only five credits away from graduating high school.

“His parents want him to go to college,” Hillcrest head coach Matt Allen told USA Today. “He’s good enough that he could (skip college and play a year internationally) like Emmanuel Mudiay, but they really want him to go to college.”

So does Sean Miller, who also dismissed any potential eligibility issues or the possibility of Ayton playing overseas.

“He is going to go to college,” the Arizona head coach said in November.


You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire