CERRITOS, Calif. -- When it comes to picking a college, the nation's No. 1 prospect DeAndre Ayton isn't especially concerned with brand names, at least not at this stage of his process. Relationships are much more important.
"Every coach tells you what you want to hear but they really have to show it," Ayton said in between games at the Pangos All-American Camp. "Coaches [not] texting me but checking up on family, the little things that make me feel comfortable and just want to go to their school. It really don't matter which school I go to to be honest, I'm not looking for certain things in a school. I just want a relationship with a coach and have a good year in college and that's it."
A 7-foot-0, 235 pound center with immense skill upside and terrific mobility and length, Ayton's very unlikely to be spending more than one year in college. Most analysts consider him the best overall prospect currently in high school basketball.
Ayton moved from San Diego to Phoenix prior to the start of last season, where he plays at Hillcrest Academy. His proximity to the Arizona State campus and relative indifference to college program prestige could give the Sun Devils an outside chance in his recruitment. He's been on the school's campus several times, including playing in informal pick-up games with NBA players, and has developed some comfort with the area.
"I like ASU to be honest," Ayton said. "I don't know. Since I've been (in the Phoenix-area) so far they've been showing love to me. It's not like a shady school. They know I've been here. Since I've been to Hillcrest they've been looking at me a little bit. I haven't talked to nobody (at ASU), just going off of what people are saying, my coaches and stuff like that. They really want to see me, I meet with them, they're cool, give me good advice, how to stay healthy, keep my game going, how to get better."
Several weeks ago Ayton posted a photo to his twitter account that included nine schools which are, he said, current favorites. In addition to ASU, Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, San Diego State, Stanford and UCLA made the list.
"Probably later on in the summer, probably after Peach Jam (in early July) I'll cut it to top four or top five," Ayton said.
ASU and Arizona should get unofficial visits in coming weeks. Others will likely have to wait until after the July evaluation period is over.
"It's getting harder now," Ayton said. "Schools are on me now. It's just a lot pressure right now to be honest, I'm finally feeling that impact of being highly recruited. My mom, when she favors a school and I'm shaky with a school it's kind of tough."
Ayton said he is talking with friends and fellow high profile recruits about the prospects of joining forces in college in order to put a great team together for his anticipated lone college season.
"I really want another big to come with me," he said. "It will be really serious. Get a nice little (NCAA) championship ring to leave with. Just looking for another big so I can stretch the floor a little bit."