Deandre Ayton drafted by Phoenix Suns, first UA player to be No.1 pick in NBA Draft

Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat Pac-12 tournament MVP Deandre Ayton celebrates in the Arizona locker room after a 75-61 victory over USC in the Championship game at the 2018 Pac-12 Tournament on Saturday, March 10 in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Deandre Ayton will begin his NBA career with the Phoenix Suns. Months of speculation came to an end Thursday night as the Suns selected the Bahamas native with the No. 1 overall pick. 

Ayton is not only the first Arizona basketball player to go first overall, but he is the Suns’ first No. 1 overall draft pick in franchise history.  The 7-foot-1 big man also becomes the sixth player in Pac-12 Conference history to be taken No. 1, joining the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969), Bill Walton (1974) and most recently Markelle Fultz (2017).

Labeled as a physical specimen who has the potential to be a franchise-changing player, Ayton has been at the top of draft boards for a while now, so it’s no surprise he was the first player taken.

Ayton has been outright in his desire to play for Phoenix over the last month. He has family there and he went to high school at Hillcrest Prep. Although from the Bahamas, Ayton calls Phoenix his second home.  

The Pac-12 Player of the Year will join a Phoenix roster that has a solid young core in place. Shooting guard Devin Booker is entering his fourth year in the league after averaging 25 points and 5 assists per game last season. Josh Jackson was the Suns' fourth overall pick in 2017, and the former Kansas Jayhawk forward made the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Arizona's Deandre Ayton (13) dunks over USC's Chimezie Metu (4) during the second half of the UA-USC game on Saturday, Feb. 10 at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. Ayton had 18 points and seven rebounds in the game.

Ayton has even said that he envisions himself and Booker being a “Shaq and Kobe 2.0” type of duo. The Suns biggest draft need was at center and Ayton immediately fills that hole. Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said at Ayton’s team workout earlier this month that they believe the former Arizona forward can be their anchor at the 5. 

In terms of what he projects as an NBA Player, Ayton has been compared to Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon as well as current stars Anthony Davis and Karl Anthony Towns. Pretty good company to be in. 

Ayton dominated night in and night out in the Old Pueblo. Now he’ll head up the road to Phoenix where he’ll look to make his mark as a modern big man in the NBA. 

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