Deandre Ayton projected to be drafted No. 1 overall by the Suns after Phoenix wins NBA Draft Lottery

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat Deandre Ayton encourages cheers as he is recognized by head coach Sean Miller after the Arizona-Cal game on Saturday, March 3 in McKale Center.

Former Arizona men’s basketball player Deandre Ayton may be able to stay in Arizona and start his NBA career in Phoenix. On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns won the NBA Draft Lottery and now own the No. 1 overall pick in this summer’s NBA Draft. 

It’s the first time in franchise history the Suns have gotten the No. 1 pick and if they select Ayton, Phoenix could make UA men’s basketball history in the process. If Ayton is drafted by the Suns, he would become the first player in UA program history to be a first overall selection. 

The 7-foot-1, 260-pound big man is currently projected to be the No. 1 pick by multiple outlets, including Sports Illustrated, ESPN and CBS Sports

In April, Ayton said in an interview with CBS Sports Radio that he could see himself playing with the Suns and form a “Shaq and Kobe 2.0” duo with Phoenix’s Devin Booker. 

Although Ayton is from Nassau, Bahamas, he played high school basketball at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, so it would be a bit of a homecoming if the Suns drafted the former UA forward. 

Despite being projected as the top pick and his desire to team up with Booker, Ayton is no sure bet to be a Sun. Phoenix hired European coach Igor Kokoskov to be the team’s new head coach earlier this month. Kokoskov coached international prospect and consensus top three pick, Luka Doncic, overseas and could try to reunite in the desert. 

The Doncic-Ayton debate will rage on for the next month, but Ayton’s historic freshman season at Arizona speaks for itself as to why he could be the top pick. 

Arizona's Deandre Ayton (13) lays in the ball uncontested in the Arizona-USC Championship game at the 2018 Pac-12 Tournament on Saturday, March 10 in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

He averaged 20.1 points per game, 11.6 rebounds per game and 1.9 blocks per game while shooting over 60 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from 3-point range. 

Ayton’s long list of accolades in just one season includes being named First-Team AP All-American, Pac-12 Player of the Year, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player. 

Related: Deandre Ayton carries Arizona on his shoulders amid high expectations

The Suns will have a chance to take Ayton on June 21 at the NBA Draft in Brooklyn, New York.

The top five NBA Draft order is listed below:

  1. Phoenix Suns
  2. Sacramento Kings
  3. Atlanta Hawks
  4. Memphis Grizzlies
  5. Dallas Mavericks 

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