TUCSON, Ariz. - “Arizona's about to shut it down,” said star Freshman Deandre Ayton at a press conference before the Cats road trip to the Bahamas.
71 NBA draft picks -- you’re reminded of that every time there's a home game at McKale Center. None higher than the 2nd overall pick. But Arizona’s Deandre Ayton can quickly change that come draft day in June.
“He's a once in a generation player. I doubt I’ll coach anyone like him ever again,” said Head Basketball Coach Sean Miller.
Ayton surprised college basketball nearly two years ago when he chose to play at Arizona, and promised Coach Miller a championship.
“He's going to go down as one of the great ones to play our game," emphasized Miller.
Ayton charmed Tucson early on --- not just with his physical size, and ability --- but with his humor too.
“You have a lot of people you know that are going to be there?” Ayton was asked prior to heading to the Bahamas.
“Some of these people I don't even know,” joked Ayton.
On several pre-season watch lists, Ayton averaged a double-double this season.
“Spectacular. I hope everyone at McKale realizes what 23 points and 19 rebounds feels like for a freshman,” as Miller sung his praises at a post-game press conference earlier this season.
Deandre finished the regular season with a game against Cal in which he notched the first 20-20 game since 1975.
Ayton also locked up Pac-12 Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and the Pac-12 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“I just have a hard time believing that there's anybody better than him," Miller said as he tried to come up with ways to describe Ayton as a good player.
If the Wildcats go as Ayton goes, they'll be looking at a deep run in March, and Ayton locking up that #1 overall draft pick come June.
“We have a weapon in the country that nobody else has,” added Allonzo Trier.
Ayton was named a finalist for the Naismith award, given to the nation’s best player. Joining him is Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, and Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham.