Kansas missed out on a third No. 1-rated basketball recruit in the last five years Tuesday as DeAndre Ayton picked Arizona over KU and Kentucky during a nationally televised college announcement on ESPN2.
Ayton, a 7-foot, 250-pounder who attends Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix, is the No. 1-rated high school player in the Class of 2017. KU landed this year’s No. 1 recruit, Josh Jackson, and also had Andrew Wiggins, top ranked in the Class of 2013.
“I made Arizona home, going to Hillcrest Prep,” Ayton said on “SportsCenter.” “My mom and I — my family and I — can benefit from it by coming to my games. Coach (Joe) Pasternack and (coach) Sean Miller, we really trust those guys. We really trust their program. I know they can help me get to the next level.”
It’s long been speculated Ayton, who hails from Nassau, Bahamas, was leaning toward KU, though some said Kentucky made inroads recently.
In July, Ayton told Zagsblog.com he would definitely be attending college for a year, not heading overseas.
“My mom wants me to go to college so I have to go,” he told Zagsblog. “Yeah, I want that experience. I really want to win a national championship, to be honest.”
Of his choices, he said in July: “I got three of the best schools recruiting me and that’s my top three right now,” he said.
And of KU, he said then: “They show a lot of love, keep me updated with things and (assistant Kurtis Townsend) came to every game since I was in ninth grade. That’s big.”
He did indicate, “Kentucky’s always been there but they just started engaging into my recruitment.”