Ayton expected to play “stretch four” at Arizona

Although Bahamian DeAndre Ayton, who is considered the top high school basketball player in the 2017 recruiting class, built his reputation on being a tough post player, he expects his game to change drastically within the next few months, as he was recently told that University of Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller plans to use him as a ‘stretch four’, rather than as a traditional power forward that plays closer to the rim. Over the last few years the sport of basketball has changed. In the past, a player with Ayton’s size would be asked to stay on the low block and dominate undersized players.

The idea of him playing away from the basketball and taking long three-point shot attempts would have been frowned on in the past, however, that’s no longer the case.

Former Arizona Wildcats center Lauri Markkanen, who stands at 7’0” and weighs 230 pounds, shot 163 three pointers last season on 42 percent shooting. Like Markkanen, Ayton says he plans to take a lot of three’s next season.

“They said I’ll be a ‘stretch four’,” Ayton said. “I could see myself playing the four, the ‘stretch four’, just staying out there on the perimeter and shooting three pointers, and down low as well.”

This season, with Hillcrest Academy, Ayton shot 46 percent from behind the three-point line.

“I took the most three pointers on my team, so I will probably be walking in Markkanen’s footsteps,” he said.

Along with moving him to the perimeter, Ayton said that Arizona also wants him to get out and run in transition after he rebounds the ball. Ayton, 19, said that he only plans to spend one year in college. He hopes that he can lead the Wildcats to a national championship in that one year.

“We’re trying to make history,” he said. “Every school has a coach that won a national championship. Sean Miller has never gone to a final four. I want to make history there, and that’s what caught my eye.”

As it stands right now, Ayton is projected to be the No. 3 pick in the 2018 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft. Last week, Ayton dominated the Jordan Brand Classic, which features some of the top high school basketball players in the United States. Ayton poured in 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the West’s 124-116 win over the East. He scored six of his 19 points down the stretch to help them close out the win.

Ayton was also named a McDonalds All-American last month. In the annual McDonalds All-American game, he finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.