Life after Ayton: Quick look at 2017 big men still available
The Kansas men’s basketball team missed out on one of their top targets on Tuesday, when 7-foot center DeAndre Ayton, the nation’s top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2017, opted for Arizona over Kansas and Kentucky.
Ayton’s decision, though not crippling, certainly served as a blow to KU’s recruitment of a big man for the future.
Freshman big man Udoka Azubuike should be around for at least the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. So, too, will Ole Miss transfer Dwight Coleby (6-9, 240) and Liberty transfer Evan Maxwell (6-10, 235).
That trio gives KU coach Bill Self and his staff time to transition into Plan B in the pursuit of KU’s next standout big man, a plan that could involve a number of still-undecided prospects in the 2017 class or skip ahead to the 2018 crew, which features forward Bol Bol, a 6-11, 180-pound five-star prospect from nearby Bishop Miege High ranked 14th overall by Rivals.com in the 2018 class.
That’s in the future. For now, let’s take a quick look at a few of the bigs still attainable in the 2017 class.
There are, of course, a number of other forwards and centers across the country that could suddenly vault up KU’s wish list, but the following list includes a few of the most likely targets for the Jayhawks.
Once you look over this list, be sure to check out our latest Recruiting Trail podcast, this week with recruiting analyst Matt Scott of TheShiver.com breaking down what comes next for Kansas after missing out on Ayton.
• Billy Preston •
— 6-9, 220, Oak Hill Academy, Virginia – 5 stars, No. 8 overall, according to Rivals.com
Regarded as a point forward, Preston, for the past several weeks, has pretty much zeroed in on Arizona, Kansas, Maryland and USC as his top choices. Given Ayton’s commitment to Arizona, it may be down to a final three for Preston, who has said that the most important factor in his decision will be finding the place that can develop him, both physically and mentally, for a jump to the NBA.
• Brandon McCoy •
— 6-11, 220, Cathedral Catholic, San Diego — 5 stars, No. 11 overall
Dubbed a true post player, McCoy has an exceptionally long reach which gives him the ability to cause problems in the paint as a rim protector and also plays well with his back to the basket on the other end. He can hit the baby hook over each shoulder and also moves very well for a player his size. McCoy’s Rivals profile indicates he has offers from Arizona, Cal, UConn, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan State, Oregon and San Diego State.
• P.J. Washington •
— 6-7, 200, Findlay Prep, Las Vegas — 5 stars, No. 17 overall
Considered a bring-your-lunch-pail-to-work type of player on both ends, Washington is a versatile big man with room to grow and an attitude that’s ready-made for college basketball. His final eight includes Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, NC State, Texas, UNLV and UCLA. And, in early August, Rivals.com predicted that Washington would wind up at Kentucky.
• Cody Riley •
— 6-7, 225, Sierra Canyon, California – 4 stars, No. 34 overall
More of a true power forward, with offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Kansas, Maryland and USC, Riley is the only one on this list who currently has an official visit to KU scheduled.
• Deng Gak •
— 6-9, 210, Blair Academy, New Jersey, 4 stars, No. 91 overall
Rugged power forward trimmed his list to five in early August — Kansas, Duke, Indiana, Miami and Florida — and told JayhawkSlant.com’s Shay Wildeboor earlier this summer that he’s looking for a place he can play immediately and make an early impact.