Arizona Athletics

Ayton goes No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns

Arizona’s Deandre Ayton will stay in Arizona as the Phoenix Suns surprised no one by drafting him with their first pick of the 2018 NBA draft.

He became the school’s first No. 1 pick in the storied history of the men’s basketball program, getting picked one spot ahead of Mike Bibby (1998) and Derrick Williams (2011).

“It means the world to me,” Ayton said from the NBA draft in New York. “The coaches know the hard work I put into this game to be successful and achieve all my goals.”

Deandre Ayton is the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

For most of the past couple of months – and likely beyond – Ayton had been projected as the No. 1 pick but when the Suns drew the first pick last month it was all but a certainty he’d land in Phoenix, where he spent a couple of years playing high school basketball before landing at the University of Arizona.

“It means a lot to me (to be playing in Arizona),” he said. “The fans there are amazing, the best in the world. I really want to go to Phoenix. I’m really happy to be part of the Phoenix Suns now to start a winning legacy with Devon Booker and Josh Jackson and the other guys. We’re a young team and ready.”

Last season, his one and only at UA, Ayton averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds and was the easy choice for Pac-12 Conference player of the year.

Ayton was quickly featured on ESPN’s show as the players were set to start waiting for their name to be called. He talked about his sharp attire, including a gold bracelet and gold watch.

He didn’t have to wait long after the selection’s started and Phoenix was able to pick him with its first-ever No. 1 pick.

ESPN’s Pedro Gomez reported former Suns’ star Charles Barkley endorsed Ayton for the pick, telling a Phoenix official mess up the pick (I’m being clean there).

“This is a historic day for the Phoenix Suns franchise,” said General Manager Ryan McDonough in a release from the Suns. “Deandre is a special player and we are thrilled to welcome him home to Phoenix. It is extremely rare for a player with his size, length and athleticism to be able to not only finish around the rim but also step away from the basket and make shots. At 7-1 and exceptionally strong, he is uniquely gifted with his hand-eye coordination and footwork. In addition, he has strong ties to this area and we can’t wait to see him in a Suns uniform.”

Ayton worked out for only one team and that was the Suns, declaring after the workout he was confident he’d be the No. 1 selection.

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