In the coming years, the Bahamas national men’s basketball team will be going toe to toe with its dominating American neighbors, thanks to its once in a lifetime talent, DeAndre Ayton. Ever since he stepped foot into the United States as a high schooler, The 7 feet 1-inch tall player, who can function either as a center or power forward and is known for being physically demanding, has been a force to reckon with. After almost conquering NCAA basketball as a freshman, the 2018 Karl Malone Award recipient was selected with the first overall pick by the Phoenix Suns where he looks to be the missing piece to the franchise’s resurgence in the NBA.
DeAndre Ayton’s Biography (Age)
Born on the 23rd of July 1998, in Nassau, Bahamas, DeAndre Ayton was welcomed into the world by his parents Alvin, who is from Nigeria, and mother Andrea, who is Bahamian but of Jamaican descent.
Ayton attended Bahamas Academy High School where he caught the attention of basketball magazine Bahamian Basketball Year which scouted him at the young age of 12. After attending a training camp in his home country, Ayton moved to San Diego, California to attend high school at Balboa City School.
As a high school sophomore, DeAndre Ayton averaged 21 points and 16 rebounds per game for Balboa. In the subsequent summer, he played on the Supreme Court AAU circuit where he averaged 16.5 points and 13.5 rebounds. His performances earned him a scholarship to attend Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix, Arizona where he immediately transferred to. He went on to average 29.2 points, 16.7 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game in his junior year with his new school. In his senior year, Ayton continued to prove he was unplayable against his peers by averaging 26 points, 15 rebounds and 3.5 blocks as he led his school to a 33-6 record.
By the time the star player was graduating high school, he was considered the top prospect in his class. He garnered interest from top college basketball programs that include Kansas and Kentucky but he opted to remain in Arizona by accepting an offer to play for the Wildcats.
After joining the Wildcats, it was revealed through an FBI wiretap that the school’s head coach had considered paying Ayton and his family $100,000 to attract him to Arizona. Regardless of the coach’s faith, Ayton was allowed to continue to play for Arizona. On his debut, he recorded 19 points (the 7th most by an Arizona freshman), 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks. A few months later, in a game against Stanford, he managed 6 blocks, the most ever by a freshman from the school in a single game. Ayton went on to average 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in 35 games, of which he recorded double-doubles in 23 games. He was then named Pac-12’s Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year as he also garnered All Pac-12 First team, Freshman team, and Defensive team honors, as well as a consensus first-team All-American mention, among numerous other accolades.
Going into the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Arizona Wildcats were seen as huge favorites but the team was however upset by the New York State University at Buffalo. Following that loss, DeAndre Ayton announced he was entering the 2018 NBA Draft.
NBA Playing Career
For months leading up to the draft, Ayton had reportedly claimed he knew he was going to be selected first. The player, who was likened to Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon due to his huge frame but decent footwork, and to future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett due to his competitive mentality, ended up being drafted with the first overall pick by the Phoenix Suns, making him the franchise’s first ever number 1 pick.
In July 2018, DeAndre Ayton signed a rookie-scale contract before joining the team to the 2018 NBA Summer League. In the four games he played, he averaged a double-double of 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game to garner All-Summer League Second Team mentions as he heads into his rookie year.
Height and Weight
During his time at the University of Arizona, DeAndre Ayton was said to weigh 260 pounds (117 kg) but he has since then trimmed to 250 pounds (113 kg). The Bahamian basketballer’s height is further listed at 7 feet 1 inch (2.16 m) while his wingspan is said to be 7 feet 5 inches (2.27 m).