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 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 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

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, 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’s Shay Wildeboor earlier this summer that he’s looking for a place he can play immediately and make an early impact.


Dirk Medema 5 years, 11 months ago

If a #91 recruit wants to make an immediate impact we're not a realistic option. It could happen but isn't likely.

Also the list of current players is missing Lightfoot.

Jay Scott 5 years, 11 months ago

6'7 guys aren't big men. They're either wings or mismatches...

Gord Lightfoot will offer more than some of the players listed.

Don Burgundy 5 years, 11 months ago

You say that as if you haven't seen Draymond Green, Dajuan Blair and even T-Rob make plays at the college level. Bill Self said himself that Robinson was 6''7 without shoes. Height is becoming less and less of a factor in basketball.

Jay Scott 5 years, 11 months ago

You're kidding, right? You haven't noticed that the average NBA PF is almost 7 feet tall? Among the top 30 in Player Efficiency Rating there are more over 6'11 feet than under 6'9. They're getting bigger, not smaller.

Robinson is listed as 6'10.

Mike Greer 5 years, 11 months ago

Kevin Durant is listed at 6'9" and is in reality much closer to 7' (according to the announcers during the Olympics) at SF. The 6'9 must have been from his freshman year at Texas. 6'6" will almost get you to an NBA guard spot anymore.

Way back when the NBA flew commercial, I lived in New Orleans and often flew with the Jazz. All of these guys were on the program about 2 inches shorter than reality. So you can't believe all the height numbers.

Brian Wilson 5 years, 11 months ago

I would hope that Washington and Riley would grow about 4 inches. Listing out at 6'7" means they really are an inch or two shorter and IMO they shouldn't play PF in college at this size if they really are NBA candidates. And, if they are not NBA candidates at PF we shouldn't recruit them. IMO, if we recruit these guys to play we should do it to play them at the position they have a chance to play in the NBA. I guess you can recruit these guys by letting them know upfront and maybe they can play Euro-ball but why? Hence the issue we had with Perry Ellis, Perry was a Power Forward in a Small Forwards' body. We need to stop putting these players and ourselves in this situation.

Not sure why we are not mentioning the following:Big Guys.
Wendell Carter
Mohamed Bamba
Ikey Obiagu

Jay Scott 5 years, 11 months ago

What situation is that? That they get a free education? A chance to play for championships?

Players at every position in college excel knowing that their games don't translate to the NBA. Should Sherron Collins have played DB instead?

Brian Wilson 5 years, 11 months ago

What you say is true, but I am sorry you don't get what I am saying. Most of these top 50 kids come to KU to prepare to play basketball professionally. KU played and prepared Sherron to be a guard not a Power Forward or a Center. That's the position Sherron would play in the NBA. In the case of Perry Ellis, Perry won't make it in the NBA as Power Forward because he is not big enough to play the position. At best he maybe makes it as a backup that can do a few things that provide a change of pace. Through out Perry's career, Bill Self spoke about playing him at the three spot, much like he sometimes spoke about playing Wayne Selden at the point. That's because those are the positions they will have to play if they play in the NBA. So although their education was free and they got to play basketball for free neither Perry or Wayne got any of the necessary experience or practice at their respective NBA positions. What a big service we did for them in their pursuit of the NBA huh? KU pretty much guaranteed them that they will have to make a living playing Euro-ball or the D league or they will have to actually make a living with the degree they earned if they graduated.

Jay Scott 5 years, 11 months ago

Perry never, ever displayed any of the skills to play the 3. He has no jumper, no faceup moves, can't beat anyone off the dribble and couldn't guard a 3 in his dreams.

Coach Self couldn't turn Perry into an NBA three any more easily than an NBA 4.

Joseph Bullock 5 years, 11 months ago

Perry often started at the top of the key, and beat his man off the dribble, from both the left and right side (by the way, those are called face up moves), and you might want to look up his 3 point %! By the way, if you ever played, it isn't always about high high you jump on your outside shot, as a 3,4,or 5, it is does the defense have to play you for the drive, first, which the did with Perry, thus making it much easier to get off his outside shot!

Jay Scott 5 years, 11 months ago

1) Ellis almost never beat anyone off the dribble and went to the basket.

2) If you think he did, it was off a screen, and he certainly wasn't guarded by a player with NBA 3 quickness.

3) His outside "jumper" is more of a JV girls set shot.

4) Close your eyes and envision Ellis one on one vs Wiggins or Harrison Barnes (who one fool says is his clone) Ellis gets torched.

He's never, ever shown the skills to play the three.

Robert Brock 5 years, 11 months ago

Why not go after Jarred Vanderbilt? He is roughly 6'9 and a bit thin but highly skilled.

Jay Scott 5 years, 11 months ago

They have. He's been offered. Word is he's TCU bound.

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