Phoenix Suns center and former Arizona Wildcat Deandre Ayton will return from his 25-game suspension Tuesday but before that he sat down with FOX Sports Arizona to publicly address the situation for the first time.
To give you a refresher, Ayton was suspended on Oct. 24 for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for a diuretic. The former No. 1 overall pick said he was “really shocked and embarrassed” when the NBA called to deliver the news.
“But most of all I just know I disappointed everybody that’s in my circle,” he said. “I started to think to myself how my career is gonna be.”
EXCLUSIVE: Deandre Ayton interview pt. 1— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) December 17, 2019
Tom Chambers sits down with DA as Ayton explains the embarrassment he felt from being suspended and what he has been doing in the days between then and now. pic.twitter.com/lgkYhnQbaP
Ayton was originally planning to appeal the suspension but felt it was best for the Suns to put his head down and serve it.
“I spoke to the (player’s) union and the team and we all just agreed on being on the team and getting better,” he said. “Just really not being a distraction, not having the situation be a distraction.”
Ayton was able to practice with the Suns during his suspension but could not be in the arena during games. He will suit up Tuesday when the Suns play the Los Angeles Clippers on the road. Phoenix is 11-15, despite getting off to a 6-3 start.
Ayton averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game as a rookie in 2018-19, earning a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. The Bahamian was a consensus All-American in his lone season at Arizona in 2017-18 as well as the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and winner of the Karl Malone Award.
Ayton became the first UA player to be selected No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft.