by RENALDO DORSETT

This week represented the beginning of NCAA basketball recruitment as coaches were able to officially contact those respective recruits for the first time.

To coincide with that landmark, ESPN released its first edition of the “ESPN 60” for the class of 2017 and Bahamian standout DeAndre Ayton topped the list.

They list Ayton as a five-star recruit with an overall grade of 97 out of a possible 100 points.

Ayton is also listed as the number one recruit in the class of 2017 by scout.com and rivals.com of Yahoo Sports.

The 7’0 foot tall, 235-pound pivot, in 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.

He went on to finish with double doubles in 21 of his 22 regular season games.

Thus far, he has received official offers from the University of Kentucky, the University of Arizona and San Diego State University.

He is considered the top high school player in the United States, irrespective of class, despite the fact that he will enter the 11th grade this fall.

Ayton was recently featured in an ESPNinsider article documenting his rise to the top of the basketball recruiting circuit, and points to a performance at home last summer as the catalyst for his rise.

His stops on the grassroots summer basketball circuit included appearances 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.

The 16-year-old finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds to lead the locally-based Providence Storms to a shocking 84-83 win over the then AP No. 19 ranked University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

He missed much of the season due to a lingering foot injury but was still recognised as one of the top sophomores in America when he was named to the MaxPreps 2014-15 Sophomore All-American First-Team.

Currently, Ayton is making his rounds on the AAU Spring/Summer circuit, most recently at the Under Armour Association League where he made his return last month after missing more than three months of action.

The UA Association League concludes July 15-18 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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