Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Consensus No. 1 NBA Draft pick Deandre Ayton trusting and glorifying God

There’s not a mock draft to be found that doesn’t have Deandre Ayton going No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns in Thursday’s 2018 NBA Draft. ESPN. Sports Illustrated. NBA.com. CBS. NBC. Bleacher Report. Sporting News. NBADraft.net. Basketball Insiders. Everyone.

So barring some remarkable development, the 7-foot-1, 19-year-old center from the Bahamas will be making a home in Phoenix, where he’s actually quite comfortable already. He spent his final two years of high school at Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix, before spending his lone season in college at the University of Arizona in Tuscon, which is two hours south of the Arizona capital.

Ayton will be immediately relied upon to help improve the NBA’s worst defense (the Suns allowed 113.3 points per game) and the league’s 21st-ranked offense (103.9 points scored per game). But as the mock drafts suggest, he’s the best suited prospect for the challenge.

“Physically, he’s one of the most gifted prospects we’ve seen in the draft in the past few years, and he has an impressive skill level to boot.” — ESPN

“He fits neatly into Phoenix’s personnel situation, will immediately be one of the most athletic centers in the league, and has the elite physical traits and skill set to become a star.” — Sports Illustrated

“Ayton has explosive offensive upside, which has been enhanced in pre-Draft training; he’s up to 265 pounds or so now, up 12 from his Wildcats weight, while maintaining eight percent body fat.” — NBA.com

The fame and fortune soon coming Ayton’s way will be a lot to handle; it would be for anyone, let alone a teenager. But Ayton has made clear his foundation is Jesus:

The NBA Draft begins Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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