by RENALDO DORSETT
Back on the court after a hiatus that stretched as far back as February, Bahamian star high school basketball prospect DeAndre Ayton was back to business as usual in his debut on the AAU summer circuit.
Ayton was on the floor at the Under Armour Association league stop in Ardsley New York and was dominant with 28 points and 12 rebounds in his return.
The 7’0 foot tall, 235-pound centre showed the versatility that has scouts considering him as the top high school player in the United States, irrespective of class, despite the fact that he is in the tenth grade.
According to National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi, Ayton “dominated the lane, made alert passes out of double teams and also hit a few medium-range jumpers. He’s not just the best player in his class, he’s the No. 1 prospect in high school regardless of class.”
The Under Armour grassroots basketball circuit has quickly grown to establish a reputation as one of the premiere spring AAU events on the prep basketball calendar.
Ayton missed the previous two weekends of the circuit hosted in April hosted in New Orleans, Louisianna and Louisville, Kentucky.
Suited up with “Supreme Court” Ayton also posted games of 15 points and 15 rebounds and an 18 point, 19 rebound and five blocked shot performance at the tournament.
The shoe company which boats NBA MVP Stephen Curry as its signature athlete and made waves in the offeseason with their pursuit of Kevin Durant, looks to have a similar impact on the grassroots basketball circuit.
“Our mission is to make all athletes better through passion, design, and the relentless pursuit of innovation. This is a mission that we take extremely seriously and are committed to bringing to life through our UA Association programs and events,” said a relase issued on the Under Armour Association website, “This year we will ‘relentlessly pursue innovation’ by enhancing the format and structure of the UA Association and introducing new properties that will make all athletes better. In 2015, our UA Association league will give our programs and players the much-deserved opportunity to pursue their passions and dreams through the game of basketball.”
In his first varsity season, Ayton lived up to the hype and was named to the MaxPreps 2014-15 Sophomore All-American First-Team.
In 22 games of his inaugural season with the Balboa City School Force in San Diego, California, Ayton averaged 21.1 points, 16 rebounds and 3.8 blocked shots per game.
Ayton had an eventful summer which saw his stock rise and continued to meet expectations when his regular season continued this fall.
The whirlwind tour for Ayton on the grassroots summer basketball circuit last year included stops at the Nike Peach Jam, Fab 48 tournament and the Lebron James Skills Academy, but was highlighted right at home during the Bahamas Basketball Federation’s Summer of Thunder.
He went on to finish with double doubles in 21 of his 22 regular season games.
Some of his highlights on the season included 33 points and 20 rebounds in an 86-66 win over Hillcrest Academy, 29 points and 21 rebounds in his team’s 64-59 win over Elite 1 Academy, 22 points and 24 rebounds against Stoneridge Prep, 29 points, 21 rebounds and eight blocks in a second matchup against Elite 1 and 24 points, 21 points and eight rebounds against Reno International.
Ayton’s last regular season game was a 30-point, 13-rebound, six-block outing, February 7 in a 105-90 win over Hillcrest Academy. He suffered a leg injury the following day and was unable to complete the remainder of the season.