DeAndre Ayton RumorsAll NBA Players
Arizona lost more than just a basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday night. Following the No. 4 seed Wildcats’ 89-68 loss to 13-seed Buffalo, 7-foot freshman center Deandre Ayton and junior guard Allonzo Trier officially declared for the NBA draft. “I learned a lot and built relationships on this team,” Ayton said. “This is the only team that I actually loved. Being a Wildcat is amazing. “I think it’s the right thing to do, right now. I think I’m ready for the NBA. … I just have to finish off school right and just work this summer and play for the draft.”
Trier scored only 10 points Thursday, connecting on 4 of 15 shots and going 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. “I’m not worried about [jumping to the NBA] right now, but I’m closing the book on this chapter and looking forward to the next one in my life,” Trier said. “It’s a pleasure to be coached by [Sean Miller] and be a part of him and this program for three years.”
CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish has Ayton second in his latest NBA mock draft, behind Duke’s Marvin Bagley. And CBS Sports’ Reid Forgrave, in a mock draft focused on “max upside,” also put Ayton second, behind Texas’ Mohamed Bamba. So does Ayton believe he should be the top pick in the NBA Draft? “Yes,” he answered confidently on Friday. “I play hard every day. Nobody has the competitiveness like me. I think I’m different from everybody else.”
Arizona has played three games since a report suggested that coach Sean Miller discussed a payment of $100,000 with a representative of an agent in order to ensure Ayton’s commitment to the Wildcats, a charge Miller has denied. There was some interest among NBA types as to how Ayton would handle the adversity, and the answer has been pretty good thus far: 22.0 points, 16.0 rebounds, 72.7 percent shooting, 2.0 blocks per game. Ayton enters March the likely No. 1 overall pick, and if he continues to let the controversy bounce off him this month, he should keep his hold on that spot.