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Ayton makes strong first impression in Arizona debut

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Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat DeAndre Ayton during the McDonald's Red-Blue game on Oct. 20 in McKale Center.

Deandre Ayton may be the best player the University of Arizona men’s basketball team has had in its’ history and he displayed glimpses of why on Friday. The seven footer made everything look easy in another installment of the annual Red-Blue game. Jump shots, dunks, rebounds, blocked shots, running, jumping, serving concessions, it seemed like Ayton did it all in front of the sell out crowd in McKale.

Ayton finished with a game-high 21 points on 10-for-14 shooting, including nine rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end. He made seven foot senior Dusan Ristic seem small and has awed his teammates since his arrival on campus.

“I think just physically he is way more ahead,” said Parker Jackson-Cartwright when asked if he had ever seen a player the size of Ayton before. “I think for anyone in the country it’s going to be a tough task to just battle down low with him because he is so big. On top of that he is just so smart and unselfish and when you have a great talent like that, that is unselfish it’s really special.”

One play from the game that is representative of Ayton’s freakish athletic ability was during a two-on-one fast break. He was able to beat everyone down the court as Allonzo Trier dribbled the ball past defender Jake DesJardins and threw it up backwards. Ayton, in a full out sprint, grabbed the ball in mid-air like he was grabbing an orange off a tree and matter-of-factly threw it down.

It was just one of many instances where you saw the true eye-opening potential of college’s next great big man. According to head coach Sean Miller, Ayton’s abilities extend to beyond the court, painted as a player willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.

“He’s obviously a terrific basketball player, but he is a remarkable kid,” Miller said. “He has done single thing that we have asked him to do since he set foot on campus…He is one of our hardest workers in the weight room. I think he ended up benching 185 pounds 19 times, which for somebody his size is quite a testament to how strong he is.”

Ayton and the Wildcats will return to McKale November 1, when they take on Eastern New Mexico in their first exhibition of the season.


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