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Arizona basketball: Wildcats plan to use DeAndre Ayton as a stretch 4

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Ayton says he shot over 40 percent from 3 in high school, so it might not be a bad idea

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

Basketball has changed.

A decade or two ago, a player with DeAndre Ayton’s frame — all 7-foot-1, 243 pounds of it — would have been stationed on the low block and asked to dominate undersized players in the paint.

3-pointers would be off limits.

But, for better or worse, that’s no longer the case for big men. As we saw with fellow 7-footer Lauri Markkanen this season, the perimeter isn’t just for guards and wings anymore.

Markkanen took 163 3s and made 42 percent of them.

Like Markkanen, Ayton plans to shoot plenty of 3s with the Arizona Wildcats next season.

“They said around like a stretch 4,” Ayton told Chris Lafayette of 247Sports how Arizona plans to use him.

“I could see myself playing the 4, the stretch 4, just staying out there on the perimeter and shooting 3s. And down low as well,” he said to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

Ayton is certainly capable of hitting 3s. He mentioned he shot “45 to 47” percent from beyond the arc in his senior year at Hillcrest Academy.

“I took the most 3-pointers on my team,” he said.

Ayton also said Arizona wants him to run the floor and rebound, and maybe even push the ball from time to time.

“I’ll probably be walking in the footsteps of Markkanen,” he said.

Ayton’s career in Tucson will look similar to Markkanen’s in another way, too — Ayton also plans to be a one-and-done.

Ayton is currently projected to be the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Markkanen, who declared in March, is projected to be selected 7th in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Ayton figures to make a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament than Markkanen did, though.

“I think they could have went pretty far, like around the Elite Eight, maybe surpass the Elite Eight, but I think this was the year for them, but stuff happens,” Ayton said of Arizona’s loss to Xavier in the Sweet 16.

Ayton will have the opportunity to be the guy to lead Arizona back to the Final Four, and he is hoping to accomplish that and “hopefully a national championship.”

“We’re trying to make history,” he told Scotto. “Every school has a coach that won a national championship. Sean Miller has never went to a Final Four. I want to make history there and that’s what caught my eye.”


You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire. All quotes transcribed from Chris Lafayette’s video interview with Ayton unless specified otherwise.