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Ayton: I Want To Play In Phoenix

"I could see a little Shaq and Kobe 2.0" with Devin Booker

March 30, 2018 - 6:36 pm

Deandre Ayton was one of the top players in college basketball this season. He averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game for Arizona, which won the Pac-12 Championship.

Ayton is expected to be one of the top picks, if not the top pick, in the upcoming NBA Draft.

And yes, that is important to him.

“Yes, it is very important,” Ayton said on Tiki and Tierney. “I’m representing the Bahamas, I’m representing a lot of islands – it’s a whole nation behind me, on my back. It’s really important for me to go No. 1. That’s why I played so hard.”

Ayton was asked which team he would like to play for.

“Honestly, I could see myself in Phoenix,” the 19-year-old said. “I could see a little Shaq and Kobe 2.0 (with Devin Booker).

Booker, 21, is averaging 24.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game this season.

Like Shaq, Ayton was primarily a low-post player in college. Unlike Shaq, he sees that changing in the NBA.

“I look at all the bigs that are pretty versatile like Joel Embiid, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis and of course (Kristaps) Porzingis,” Ayton said. “Demarcus Cousins, he can move. With his size, he can really use his size on the perimeter against anybody. That’s what I want to do when I get to the league.”

Which is why he’s working on it now.

“That’s all I’m doing in the gym,” he said. “Off-the-dribble moves, working on my face-up game. I still have my back to the basket because there’s going to be times where I’m going to really have to score down low, but I’m really working on my face-up game because in the league there’s more space and there’s not double-teams and triple-teams coming at you like how it was in college.”

While Ayton certainly looks ready for the NBA, he’s also a work in progress with unlimited potential.

“I wasn’t really a student of the game,” Ayton said of his basketball upbringing. “I just played it because I loved it. I didn’t really look into the greats as much. They just put a ball in my hand, and I did what the coach told me to."