Two of the Arizona Wildcats’ high-profile Class of 2017 signees — DeAndre Ayton and Brandon Randolph — received plenty of publicity on ESPN tonight with their performances at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
RELATED: Arizona assistant Book Richardson attended the Hoophall Classic to watch Ayton, Randolph and some younger prospects.
Randolph had 18 of his 28 points in the second half to lead Westtown (Pa.) School to a 66-54 win over Ayton and Phoenix Hillcrest Prep. Randolph, a sharp-shooting 6’5″ wing player, made 11 of his 18 shots, most from the perimeter.
Ayton, the nation’s No. 1 Class of 2017 prospect at 7’1″ and 255 pounds, finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds. He was involved in the featured matchup against Westtown post prospect Mohamed Bamba, an undecided Class of 2017 prospect who is being recruited by Kentucky and Duke and many others.
Bamba finished with nine points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Bamba is 3-0 against Ayton. They faced each other last month in a Florida tournament and during the AAU summer circuit.
ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi said some may wonder why Ayton is the consensus No. 1 ranked player by most recruiting services.
“If everybody played their ‘A’ game, nobody would be better Ayton,” Biancardi said during the telecast. “He can do whatever he wants to at the high school level. After one year at Arizona he can be a top three pick in the NBA.”
After Randolph made a 3-pointer from NBA range when Hillcrest was rallying in the fourth period, Biancardi said: “That’s crunch time right there. Sean Miller’s gonna love that kind of gusto.”
“He’s just a terrific all-around scorer with a great shooting touch,” Biancardi continued about Randolph. “When you watch him play, he doesn’t force it. It all comes within the flow of his teammates.”
During halftime of the game, ESPN college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman interviewed Shaquille O’Neal about the recruitment of his son Shareef O’Neal, a Class of 2018 five-star power forward from Santa Monica (Calif.) Crossroads (which is participating in the Hoopshall Classic).
Shareef took an unofficial visit to Arizona last month with Shaq. Goodman asked Shaq if he will offer any counseling for his son with LSU (Shaq’s alma mater) and Kentucky recruiting his son.
Shaq mentioned that Arizona is among other schools also recruiting his son. He added that he will leave the decision entirely to Shareef similar to how his father allowed him to make his decision when he was in high school.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.