Monday, April 25, 2016

Center of attention: KU alone in pursuit of No. 1 prep Ayton

Team EZ Pass’ DeAndre Ayton shoots a free throw against Team Doo Be Doo in the Under Armour Elite 24 game in this photo from August 22, 2015, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Ayton, ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2017, is being recruited only by Kansas University — so far.

Team EZ Pass’ DeAndre Ayton shoots a free throw against Team Doo Be Doo in the Under Armour Elite 24 game in this photo from August 22, 2015, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Ayton, ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2017, is being recruited only by Kansas University — so far.


Kansas University’s basketball program, which recently landed a commitment from Josh Jackson, the No. 1 prospect in the high school recruiting class of 2016, also leads for the top player in the Class of ’17.

DeAndre Ayton, a 7-foot junior forward from Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix, told the Louisville Courier-Journal at last weekend’s Nike EYBL event in Indianapolis that KU currently is the only school recruiting him.

Now, that figures to change, considering coaches from Kentucky, Arizona and others watched Ayton play for California Supreme in Indy.

But one would think KU obviously has the early advantage.

“Right now it’s Kansas. That’s it. I’m only seeing Kansas right now,” Ayton told the Courier-Journal on Friday.

Why has only KU been pursuing him?

“I don’t know,” he responded. “The word is I’m not going to college or something. I’d say college is a must. I have to go to college. My mom wants me to go to college.”

Could grades be a factor?

“I’m NCAA eligible. I don’t know what’s the problem,” Ayton told the paper. “I mean, I really don’t care who isn’t recruiting me, to be honest. It really doesn’t matter to me. Whoever comes, comes. I’ll look into it and figure something out.”

Ayton is from the Bahamas, as is KU junior-to-be forward Dwight Coleby and former Oklahoma phenom Buddy Hield.

“He’s special right now,” Hield said of Ayton in an interview with “I think he’s good for the NBA now. His physical talents ... he can rebound the ball. He’s just a talent. You can’t teach height.”

Prospects deluxe: Three KU prospects were on the floor for the PSA Cardinals’ overtime victory over MoKan Elite in Indy.

Michael Porter, a 6-8 junior forward from Tolton Catholic in Columbia, Mo., who is ranked No. 2 in the Class of ’17 by, had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Trae Young, a 6-1 combo guard from Norman (Okla.) North who is ranked No. 13, had 19 points for MoKan. Mohamed Bamba, a 6-11, 205 junior from Westtown (Pa.) School who is ranked No. 3, had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the winners.

“You have to do what’s best for you, but we (he and Porter) really, really want to play together at the next level and that’s a really high possibility,” Young told the Courier-Journal. “We benefit from each other. I make him look good. He makes me look really good. With him on the wing and me at the lead guard, I feel like we can do really big things at the next level, too.”

“Chemistry is something that really appeals to me,” Porter told the C-J. “We just developed that connection and on the court we’re always looking for each other. We make each other’s life easier. There’s something to say about doing your own thing, being a star, doing something different – but you want to play with and against great players. They make your life easier.”

Schools that have a shot at landing the duo: KU, Kentucky, Duke, Oklahoma, Missouri, Virginia and perhaps others.

“There’s a couple schools where if I went to, I’m not sure he’d follow, and the same with him,” Porter said, “but we have a lot of schools in common and we’re really trying to make it work.”

More updates: Nicholas Richards, a 6-10 junior forward from Patrick School in Elizabeth, N.J., who is ranked No. 19 in the Class of 2017, had coaches from KU, Kentucky, Syracuse, UConn, Arizona, Seton Hall, UCLA and Duke at his weekend EYBL games. ... Hameir Wright, a 6-7 junior forward from Albany (N.Y.) Academy for Boys, who is ranked No. 116, has heard from KU, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Kansas State, Villanova, Syracuse, SMU and others, reports.


Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

Really, really odd that the number 1 ranked player in next year's class is only being recruited by Kansas. Self must have some kind of insight with a plan to coach Ayton while everybody else shuns away....or there are some eligibility issues. Maybe we should hang onto those 'Free Dialo' signs, cross out the Diallo and overwrite Ayton.

Joe Ross 5 years, 7 months ago

Someone made a comment like this last week, but sometimes you can get into cases of "once bitten, twice shy". Unless there is evidence in the specific case that there are eligibility issues then troubling ourselves about eligibility issues is somewhat non-productive. If he's making a declarative statement that he's NCAA eligible, then as long as we are free to assume either way, then it sounds to me like that's the kind of statement that can not be made without something upon which to base it. It may be that Duke, KY, and others have other plans for recruiting. It may be that they're just not in on him yet (that happens a lot...even with these phenomenal players). It may not be Ayton himself.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

I hear he is not very aggressive or rather a very passive player. If so, Self must believe he'll be able to motivate him, which he has done for very passive players.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 7 months ago

Deandre Ayton is the highest rated prospect since Wiggins. If Kentucky and Duke aren't touching him, that should throw all kinds of red flags about his eligibility because Ayton has been on record that he was a huge Kentucky lean early on in the process.

Joe Ross 5 years, 7 months ago

If Cal and Coach K know that there are eligibility issues, then the information is out there to be had. So far there's been nothing forthcoming, even though Cal and K aren't privileged with respect to their insight on the academic progress of prospective athletes. Again, Ayton himself makes a declarative statement which appears to indicate he has some insight into his own academic standing. No red flags.

Jay Scott 5 years, 7 months ago

Kentucky and Duke aren't recruiting the #1 prospect = no red flags...


Joe Ross 5 years, 7 months ago

There may indeed be cause for concern, but it is not established on the basis of whether KY and Duke are recruiting a kid. As the article points out CLEARLY, even these schools may yet get in on recruiting him at a later date. Yes, yes. I'm sure I read that. Maybe you could produce the evidence which suggest his academics are not in order?

Jay Scott 5 years, 7 months ago

Joe....where does anyone say specifically that his academics aren't in order? He's a high school junior. He isn't NCAA cleared for college.... It's been suggested that the NCAA may not have approved his previous school. Any info on that?

In what other recent year have Duke AND Kentucky NOT reached out to the #1 recruit by now.

It's the very definition of a red flag. wow....

Joe. For God's sake be a man for once and admit that your statement was just flat out stupid. If you can't do that, JUST SHUT UP.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 7 months ago

Google Starshine Academy and enjoy. Hillcrest lost the #1 player in 2018 because Starshine was not NCAA accredited and Bagley didn't want to run the risk of not being cleared. If losing that high profile of a prospect specifically citing academics as the reason he's transferring doesn't set off all kinds of red flags and alarm bells, then no amount of evidence will. Bagley's dad (who happened to be a coach at Hillside) is the one who pulled his son from Hillcrest because of their academic issues. It's all out there to Google, all you have to do is look for it yourself instead of depending on others to research stuff for you.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

Thank you Aaron for the very good research. I was depending on you.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 7 months ago

The #1 recruit in the country is passive? Not aggressive? Would really like to know where you heard that Suzi.

Eligibility issues are a separate issue. The lack of recruiting is definitely a red flag but your denigration of his game is perplexing.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

I was talking to a friend who saw him play in Dallas agains that Bam guy. Bam barely outplayed him mostly because all Ayton did was hang around the 3-point line and rarely mixed it up.

I was told the guy was super talented but lazy as heck.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 7 months ago

I guess that's why hearsay is not admissible in court. I find it difficult to believe that the number overall #1 recruit is lazy.. Not saying anything about your friend but when sports and particularly basketball recruiting journalists start mentioning the issue, then I would take it much more serious.

Jay Scott 5 years, 7 months ago

Dirk Nowitski was evaluated somewhat similarly early in his NBA career.....

Jay Scott 5 years, 7 months ago

Any big player who has an outside game deals with this label. Ayton has the potential to be like did a lot of kids.

Frederick Heckel 5 years, 7 months ago

Uh, Michael Porter Jr is actually 6'8. Not the 6'3 that is stated.

Stu Libby 5 years, 7 months ago

KU could wind up having a legendary class in 2017. Can't wait to see how it shakes out. More good press on Josh Jackson and his impact on next season's success on SH this morning. Def a recommended read:

Jay Scott 5 years, 7 months ago

It was suggested that Hillcrest Academy isn't properly accredited. Its new and offers online courses as well as classroom instruction for its 350 or so students , so it says....

Any definitive links that it's not accredited?

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like a UNC African Studies type program.

Tony Bandle 5 years, 7 months ago

KU seems to have cornered the market on student-athletes with eligibility issues. Maybe we are just getting good at battling the NCAA.

Good call, Jay. I tried to do a quick search on any issues with this school but came up empty.

It does seem odd we are the only ones talking to this kid. Thon Maker had a bunch of issues and. still had a ton of inquiries. Interesting.

Jay Scott 5 years, 7 months ago

I belive it was Aaron Paisley who first raised the issue.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 7 months ago

As others have mentioned below, Starshine Academy where Hillcrest players were taking their classes is not an NCAA accredited school. The NCAA visited there in October, never got back to Starshine about whether they would become accredited (sound familiar?) so Hillcrest's coach changed the academics of the school to go through Arizona Connections Academy which is NCAA accredited. Ayton has 3 semesters (including this current semester) and summer school to make up the credits from Starshine that he needs to.

Best case for KU with Ayton is an early commitment. If it drags on and he gets to where his academics are an issue and Kentucky gets involved, Ayton may go to Kentucky because he has said that Kentucky would have been his school of choice early on in his recruitment and that could still be the case if UK gets involved late as well.

Jay Scott 5 years, 7 months ago

Seems like the kid can play. I'm sure that due diligence will be done.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 5 years, 7 months ago

surprised we don't just put them up in lhs or free state for a couple years. a proper education and eligibility seems better than this runaround we put them through just so they might be able to play a game they love.

Jay Scott 5 years, 7 months ago

Are you really surprised? Do you think that's a viable option?

Steve Macy 5 years, 7 months ago

I thought he was considering a different route in his basketball career, not college, and I guess a lot of coaches did too. Could be a good to great recruiting year in 2017, thinking ahead and this recruiting season isn't over yet. RCJH, keep them coming Coach Self. Always thought Porter was taller. :)

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 7 months ago

Hopefully he will reward the coaching staff by committing early and signing during the early signing period.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 7 months ago

I want to agree but what happens if his commitment drives away other top recruits or the NCAA drags out the process as it did w/Diallo?

If he was to commit to KU, it would be hard not to give him a scholarship.

Is Self taking a gamble by offering him one?

Mike Greer 5 years, 7 months ago

I think every coach takes a gamble with every scholarship they hand out. Don't just look at coach Self, but coach Williams and other teams. Of all the scholarships they have given over the past 20 years, what percentage really works out exactly the way they would have planed. It's easy to pick on KU and coach Self, because that's what we know best and have the most interest in. But all coaches struggle with the crystal ball and knowing who will work out and who will end up not really contributing as much as they might have thought.

Benz Junque 5 years, 7 months ago

His prep team was aligned with a sketchy program for their academics that has most seriously questioning if the credits he took there will be counted by the NCAA. They have since changed to a different academic program that will have no problem but those courses he took at the sketchy program will always be part of his transcript.

Hopefully KU can get a commitment from him in the early signing period and then get started on the process of vetting his transcripts so that they have time to back off him if there really is a problem.

Andy Hess 5 years, 7 months ago

The issue is that until recently, Ayton "attended" a school that physically doesn't exist. They were essentially home-schooled and leased a gym for home games. Because he is not being educated in a traditional, brick-and-mortar, public or private high school, there are speculations that this would be an eligibility hurdle. Looks like they're working on that though.

Mallory Briggans 5 years, 7 months ago

i was also aware of the accreditation issues....well KU has a year to figure it out ....its too good to be true a player of his skill set falling into KU's lap because he feels no-one wants to take the risk.......ONE YEAR TO FIGURE IT OUT.....KU has nothing to lose in checking out his transcripts.......and regardless KU wont jeapardize going on probation or any sanctions by using this kid without all the T's crossed and I 's dotted with the NCAA ....but it would be a good player ....a true center.....and if AZ pans out because of his age would be coming stay tuned

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 7 months ago

The guts of this article regarding Ayton was printed on Yahoo the other day in an article written by the local shill for UK in Lexington. Of course, the "red flags" are interesting and may be totally valid. However, the UK guy took several shots at Bill Self and called him a risk taker based upon "the questionable academics of Josh Selby and Cliff Alexander".

His command of the facts is way off. Selby and Alexander didn't have academic eligibility problems. Their situations were strictly an issue of possibly receiving improper benefits. Also, if memory serves me correctly, UK recruited both of them.

Given KU's 100% performance in the area of academics, I don't think that UK has anything to gloat about. Then, considering the venom that Andrew Wiggins was subjected to by their fan base when he chose KU, their opinions don't amount to a hill of beans.

I trust Bill Self and his staff to handle things in the right way, and rest assured, if the clouds around Ayton begin to dissipate, UK, Duke, and every other program in the country will be flocking to Ayton's door to try to recruit him. If that happens, KU will be glad that they were there first and perhaps established some loyalty with DeAndre.

I don't worry about it one way or the other because there are obviously many outstanding players out there. I predict that KU will get their share as they usually do.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh, I forgot. The UK guy also referenced Darrell Arthur.

I will admit that there were some eligibility questions on him, but the bottom line is that he was ruled eligible, and he was a big part of the 2008 National Championship Team.

Also, don't forget that Calipari recruited Derrick Rose which proved to be an eligibility morass after he was a OAD at Memphis.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 7 months ago

The UK guy conveniently ignored Eric Bledsoe's case which was much more recent than Darrell Arthur.

Mallory Briggans 5 years, 7 months ago

Wouldnt it be great if Ayton did clear and was able to play.....If the Champions Classic is still going we would play Kentucky in the rotation 2017 .......Think D.A. might want to get Cals attention..........but of course he has to be cleared...

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

Maybe Ayton should commit to KU now, then transfer to Lawrence (or Free State) HS for his senior year. That avenue worked out well for Danny Manning. Perhaps Ayton should think about it.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 7 months ago

Very interesting, Suzi. Hadn't thought of that. Wouldn't that just frost the "elites" at UK and Duke.

By the way, Yahoo is reporting that North Carolina has just been served with another Notice of Allegations regarding the academic scandal. May not be anything really new, but it can't be good news for the Tarheels.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

Word is those are new allegations. UNC is in big trouble, especially the Women's BBall Team. Roy is taking the hit for Dean Smith but UNC might lose 1-3 National Championships.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 7 months ago

I've been hearing about these allegations off and on for what seems like several years now but then it seems to disappear for long periods of time. Is the NCAA dragging their heels on this investigation or is there a lot going on behind the scene at UNC?

I think one of the first allegation (that I remember) came from Rashad McCants who stated that Roy Williams was aware of at least some of the academic fraud

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 7 months ago

UNC has been dragging it out and has not been very cooperative.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 7 months ago

You would think the NCAA would overextend their powers as they did with Diallo and basically tell UNC to provide documentation or rule against UNC. I don't have nearly the dislike towards UNC that I have towards Kentucky and wouldn't want to see them lose NCAA titles but I don't think the NCAA would allow too many other Universities drag their heels as they seem to be doing in this case.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 7 months ago

Probably a little late with an update, but Yahoo is now reporting that the likelihood is that UNC will get off soft. Therefore, who knows?

If justice is served, one way or the other, I will be OK with it. However, if UNC gets a pass solely on their "blue blood" status, then it will be a typical political travesty.

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