By RENALDO DORSETT
SHARING the floor with the top high school basketball recruits in America, Bahamian prep star DeAndre Ayton made the sort of impact that has the University of Arizona Wildcats fan base excited for the fall.
Ayton finished with eight points, a game high 11 rebounds and three steals in a 109-107 win for his West team over the East last night at McDonald’s All-American Game at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Ayton received the start and played 20 minutes. He posted six points and six rebounds in the first half as the West trailed 56-50.
Missouri commit Michael Porter Jr was named the MVP after posting 17 points and eight rebounds.
All that is left in Ayton’s storied high school career is his final elite all-star showcases, the Jordan Brand Classic.
Ayton, the consensus No.2 player in the class of 2017 and commit to the University of Arizona, will headline the roster for the Jordan Brand Classic, hosted April 14 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.
He was recently named the USA Today All-USA Boys Basketball First Team.
In his final game for the Hillcrest Academy Bruins in Phoenix, Arizona, Ayton finished with 29 points and 22 rebounds to lead his team to a 70-61 win over Gainsville Florida’s The Rock in the Grind Session World Championship.
He led team to 33-6 record and national title in Grind Session, averaging 26 points, 15 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.
The McDonald’s All-American Game is an All-Star game for American and Canadian boys and girls high-school basketball graduates. Consisting of the top players, each team plays a single exhibition game after the conclusion of the high-school basketball season, in an East vs West format.
Ayton was the only Arizona commit named to the list of the top 24 high school players.
His West team included other top players such as Gary Trent Jr (Prolific Prep/Duke), Brian Bowen (la Lumiere/Undecided), Troy Brown Jr (Centennial/Oregon), Trae Young (Norman North/Oklahoma) and Brandon McCoy (Cathedral Catholic/Undecided), who all appeared in the Nike EYBL Bahamas exhibition game this summer.
The East team included Nike EYBL Bahamas alumni, including Mohammed Bamba (Westtown/Undecided), Wendell Carter Jr (Pace Academy/Duke), Quade Green (Neumann-Goretti/Kentucky), Mitchell Robinson (Chalmette/Western Kentucky), Collin Sexton (Pebblebrook/Alabama), Lonnie Walker (Reading/Miami, PJ Washington (Findlay Prep/Kentucky), and Jarred Vanderbilt (Victory Prep/Kentucky).
The University of Kentucky Wildcats had four signees in the game while 12 universities will be represented and six players were still uncommitted.
Ayton said he used the opportunity to add even more players to join him on a talented recruting class for the Wildcats.
“I like the recruiting class, it’s pretty deep. We have Brandon Randolph and Alex Barcello coming in, so we have good size and a pretty good group of guys,” he told ESPN, “I’m really trying to get Trevon Duval and Brian Bowen to come to Arizona too because they’re still undecided. I’m trying to get the best of the best.”
Ayton said he wanted his two-year tenure at Hillcrest to be remembered long after he graduates.
“I hope people will know that one of the best players came through here and that I’ve left my mark with a goal to always be a role model,” he said. “Hillcrest Prep has helped me with the competitiveness that I can bring to Arizona and always knowing to play hard and not take plays off. Even when you think no one is watching, somebody always sees you.”