By RENALDO DORSETT
DESPITE reports suggesting that his return to the United States was hampered due to Visa issues, DeAndre Ayton is back with his Hillcrest Bruins and ready to resume his season tonight.
Ayton is currently back in the US and his Bruins will take on Westbury Christian at the American Family Insurance Hoophall West Tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona, tonight.
The game will be broadcasted live on FloHoops.
Ayton and his Hillcrest team were in New Providence to participate in the Sand Between Your Toes Showcase last month.
Leading the Bruins to a 2-0 finish, Ayton averaged 27.5 points, nine rebounds and 2.5 blocks on the weekend. In game one, he posted 21 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in a 69-62 win over 22 Feet Academy (Anderson, South Carolina). In game two, Ayton flashed his outside shooting touch and defensive skillset matched up against Auburn commit Austin Wiley and The Conrad Academy. Ayton finished with 33 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks, two steals and two assists in a 77-68 win for Hillcrest. Wiley finished with 25 points and eight rebounds.
He extended his stay for several weeks and Jerry Mayer, director of scouting for 247Sports, tweeted that Ayton was stuck in the Bahamas “on a Visa issue.”
Ayton was not with his Hillcrest teammates for their games at the Marshall County (Kentucky) Hoop Fest last weekend which led some to question his status.
Ayton clarified those reports with ESPN Insider Jeff Goodman.
“DeAndre Ayton, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017, told ESPN he went home to the Bahamas to get his visa renewed. Was back home in Nassau for a little more than two weeks. Said he expects to return to Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix tomorrow - and also said he will play college ball at Arizona,” Goodman tweeted.
This year’s Hoophall West is scheduled for December 9-10 at Chaparral High in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event serves as the west coast version of the Hoophall Classic that takes place in Springfield, Massachusetts, in January.
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.
The 7’0”, 235-pound phenom had a busy summer on the circuit which included stops on the Nike EYBL, Adidas Nations and for the Bahamian national team.
He is just one major name in a stacked field filled with elite Division I talent, including LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball of Chino Hills, both commits to UCLA, Alex Barcello of Corona del Sol - an Arizona commit - and La Lumiere’s duo of forward Jaren Jackson - a Michigan State commit - and wing Brian Bowen.
Arizona head coach Sean Miller recently expressed his happiness with Ayton’s reiteration that he plans to attend college.
When Bruce Pascoe of The Arizona Daily Star asked Miller in a press conference if a possibility exists that Ayton turns pro overseas rather than play for Arizona — similar to Terrence Ferguson in Australia this year — Miller said emphatically: “He is going to go to college.”