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Arizona basketball: Wildcats have sky-high expectations for DeAndre Ayton

UA’s coaching staff thinks he will be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft

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

DeAndre Ayton’s message has been loud and clear — he is going to be a one-and-done with the Arizona Wildcats.

The 7-footer hasn’t played a college game yet, but it’s an understandable stance.

Ayton is the No. 1 recruit in the country, according to one scouting service, and Draft Express projects he will be selected third in the 2018 NBA Draft.

And after getting a closer look at Ayton this summer, Arizona’s coaching staff believes he will be drafted even higher than that.

“They said [he’s] excellent,” Gary Parrish said of UA’s coaching staff on the CBS Eye on Basketball podcast. “They think he’s the No.1 pick in the draft and should be a dominant college basketball player from day one. They don’t think he’s the best player in the country right now, but he’s the most talented.”

With a massive 7-foot frame, striking athleticism, and a diverse game, Arizona head coach Sean Miller called Ayton a “once-in-a-generation” player back in November.

The talent and physical attributes are there for Ayton to be as dominant as any player in the game, but in high school he had a reputation for taking plays off.

The Arizona coaching staff doesn’t think that will be an issue in Tucson.

“I talked to the Arizona staff at Peach Jam about [Ayton] specifically and they said he’s been amazing,” Parrish said. “The knock on him is, ‘is he intense enough? Does he get bored?’

“The way someone on the staff explained it to me, yes that was a legitimate question before he got to Tucson. Because you’d watch him in the summer and he was so much better than everybody else and he’s been so much better than everyone else forever. And not just from a skill perspective, but he is physically better than everybody else… Bigger, stronger, quicker, better footwork. He could afford to not play hard.

“They said, ‘listen, we got Ayton to Tucson and surrounded him — there’s a structure and culture in place, he’s around older players who know how to win, and have won at a high level, and he’s had to fall in line with them. If you don’t work, you don’t belong here.’”

Ayton is expected to start for an Arizona team that many consider to be the No. 1 squad in the country heading into the 2017-18 season.

Expectations are high for the Wildcats — and rightfully so — and evidently Arizona’s coaching staff isn’t interested in quelling them.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire