Ayton highest rated prospect in Miller era to commit to Arizona Wildcats


DeAndre Ayton is the No. 1-rated prospect in the Class of 2017 while Marvin Bagley has that distinction for the Class of 2018.

Sean Miller has signed 13 five-star prospects since his hire at Arizona in 2009. He may land his 14th — and highest rated of them all — if multi-talented post player DeAndre Ayton of Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix signs in November.

Ayton is the No. 1-rated recruit of the Class of 2017 by most recruiting services. Stanley Johnson, rated by Scout.com No. 3 in the Class of 2014, is the highest ranked recruit signed in the Miller era.

Brandon Jennings was the No. 1 prospect of the Class of 2008 who signed with Lute Olson, but he never qualified and opted to play professionally overseas instead of attending Arizona.

Ayton, 7’1″ and 245 pounds, announced his commitment to Miller’s program Tuesday afternoon, choosing the Wildcats over Kansas and Kentucky. A verbal commitment is non-binding and academic requirements must be met, but from all indications, Ayton is ready to put the recruiting behind him and concentrate on what he can improve upon to strengthen Miller’s program in 2017-18.

“It’s close to home, and I really built a great relationship with Coach Miller and (assistant Joe) Pasternack,” Ayton told ESPN. “It’s important to me for my mom to see me play — and to be close to her.”

Ayton, 18, is in his second season at Hillcrest after moving to San Diego in the seventh grade from Nassau, Bahamas. Ayton confirmed to ESPN that he will not change course and play professionally overseas, which is what five-star wing player Terrance Ferguson did a few months ago, opting to play in Australia instead of attend Arizona.

As tremendous as Miller has shown recruiting five-star talent to Tucson, getting a commitment from Ayton tops them all. Beating John Calipari, known for attracting and churning out top-of-the-line talent, is significant on its own merit.

Here is the ranking of the five-star talent Miller has attracted through the Class of 2016, according to Scout.com’s rankings.

No. Class Player Pos.
3 2014 Stanley Johnson SF
4 2013 Aaron Gordon PF
6 2012 Kaleb Tarczewski C
9 2012 Grant Jerrett PF
10 2012 Brandon Ashley PF
10 2013 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF
16 2011 Josiah Turner PG
16 2015 Ray Smith SF
20 2015 Allonzo Trier SG
23 2016 Rawle Alkins SG
27 2015 Justin Simon PG

Here are the five-star recruits signed by Lute Olson and their rankings, dating to 2002, when Scout.com started to run such lists. Note again that Jennings never attended Arizona and Ndubi Edi decided to enter the NBA draft.:

No. Class Player Pos.
1 2008 Brandon Jennings PG
3 2003 Ndubi Ebi PF
8 2006 Chase Budinger SF
9 2007 Jerryd Bayless SG
10 2003 Mustafa Shakur PG
18 2004 Jawann McClellan SF
19 2002 Hasaan Adams SG
21 2001 Chris Rodgers PG

Ayton is the second recruit to commit to Arizona in the Class of 2017, joining fellow Phoenix-area prospect Alex Barcello of Tempe Corona del Sol, a four-star recruit who committed two weeks ago while on an official visit.

Source: Scout.com. *-Never attended Arizona. **-Lute Olson on leave of absence.

Year Coach 5* 5-Star Players 4* 3* 2*
2002 Lute Olson 2 PG Chris Rodgers/SG Hassan Adams 1 1 0
2003 Olson 2 PG Mustafa Shakur/PF Ndubi Edi* 1 0 0
2004 Olson 1 SG Juwann McClellan 1 2 1
2005 Olson 0 3 0 0
2006 Olson 1 SF Chase Budinger 2 0 0
2007 Olson** 1 SG Jerryd Bayless 1 3 0
2008 Olson** 1 PG Brandon Jennings* 1 2 0
2009 Sean Miller 0 4 1 0
2010 Miller 0 1 2 0
2011 Miller 1 PG Josiah Turner 3 0 0
2012 Miller 3 C Kaleb Tarczewski/PF Brandon Ashley/PF Grant Jerrett 1 0 0
2013 Miller 2 PF Aaron Gordon/SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 1 0 0
2014 Miller 1 SG Stanley Johnson 3 0 0
2015 Miller 3 SF Ray Smith/SG Justin Simon/SG Allonzo Trier 1 0 0
2016 Miller 2 PF Lauri Markannen/SG-SF Rawle Alkins 1 0 0
2017 Miller 1 C DeAndre Ayton 1 0 0

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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