He’s nearly reached the pinnacle of his sport, but basketball prep superstar Deandre Ayton is already looking forward to the development of the local game.
Ayton’s Hillcrest Prep Bruins recently captured another early season tournament title over the weekend.
He was named the Most Valuable Player as the Bruins won the John Wall Holiday Invitational’s “TJ Warren Bracket” in Raleigh, North Carolina and also took the time to discuss the changes he wants to see in Bahamian basketball.
The top ranked player in the class of 2017 and Arizona Wildcats commit finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds in a 77-60 win over the Tampa Catholic Crusaders.
Following the tournament, Ayton spoke with Lamont Taylor of GetMeRecruited.com and discussed the changes he would like to see in the development of young Bahamian basketball players so they can follow the same path he has toward stardom.
“We need to have more mentors. More people that do things to give back to the kids and not just do it to get something out of it. When I went back home there was a lot of big kids in the supermarket packing bags and nobody’s working with them. It’s a waste of height – 6’7″ or 6’8″ I just we had more mentors working with these kids and helping to developing them,” Ayton said.
He talked about the the struggle of the transition for many Bahamian basketball players making the jump to the United States.
“In the Bahamas you can count how many indoor courts we have in Nassau, in the whole city. Everybody plays outdoors and their is not much opportunities for a kid to come the US and play. The competition doesnt really help you to get better and we lack the basics. When we come to the US and we see the big crowds, the lights and the indoor courts we get distracted. It’s hard coming from the Bahamas sometimes especially without having the right culture of basketball because basketball isn’t that big,” Ayton said, “There’s not a lot of people coming back to show the kids how to play, everybody just wants to run and jump but the IQ and how to play the game isn’t there. We think when you can dunk you think you’re good. It’s just stuff like that we have to change but we don’t have the opportunities with the mentors to teach us how to be a better off the court and on the court.”
In the Wall Invitational, Ayton said he relished the opportunity to compete against another highly rated player in the class, No.7 ranked Kevin Knox of the Crusaders. Knox finished with 22 points and five rebounds.
“Playing against Kevin was fun,” Ayton said. “But we just had to buckle down and play hard. I knew that if we did that we could get it done.” “We did what we said we were gonna do,” Ayton said. “To get a win like this is big for our team.”
Ayton scored 27 and grabbed 13 rebounds and the Bruins advanced to the final with a 72-64 win over Tampa Bay Catholic. In round one they defeated the Northwood Eagles 69-57 and Ayton’s 11 points and seven boards.
Ayton has risen to the top of the high school basketball circuit after just a few short years and chose to end his recruitment process before his senior season ever began when he announced his decision to attend Arizona in a press conference broadcasted live on ESPN’s SportsCenter this summer.
Ayton previously attended the Balboa City School in San Diego, California after he left the Bahamas just over three years ago to complete his education and compete against better basketball talent.
At Balboa City, he rose to national prominence and was evaluated as one of the top ranked players in his class by ESPN, Scout, Rivals and several other recruiting services.
“It’s rough but if you really want it and you put your heart to it and your mind to it and you bring the dedication every day it’ll be much easier. It’s a whole different ball game and you have to adapt to it quick or they will take advantage of you,” he said, “You just have to be humble and hungry and put God first and stay grounded.”