The No. 1 player in 2017 has his top three set.
Five-star center DeAndre Ayton is now down to three schools in consideration for his likely one year of college basketball. Ayton's high school, Hillcrest Hoops, posted the news on Twitter Monday that the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2017 class had set his final list, which includes the Kentucky Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks.
UK and KU are widely viewed as the two teams to beat for Ayton, and regardless of what his 247 Crystal Ball says, the Wildcats are right in the mix if they want to be. John Calipari and his staff have only begun to pursue Ayton harder in recent months after showing little interest in him up until around May.
On the other hand, Bill Self and his staff have been pushing hard to get Ayton since closer to January. While the Jayhawks still remain the favorite, UK will be firmly in the running if they continue to push for him and give him a 'committable' scholarship offer.
That's where things get interesting.
UK is in the running for fellow five-star big men Mohamed Bamba and Nick Richards, while WKU commit Mitchell Robinson is a possible option. It's realistic to think UK gets two of those guys, but not all of them.
Calipari has to determine how likely it is that Ayton is eligible to play college basketball if he chooses to, or if he'll be another Terrance Ferguson/Emmanuel Mudiay/Brandon Jennings type of player, who signs with a school, but ends up leaving them at the altar.
Ayton has continuously said he has no eligibility concerns, but there's just too much smoke here for UK to go all-in on him the way KU will with guys like Josh Selby, Ben McLemore, Jamari Traylor, Cheick Diallo, Cliff Alexander, Josh Jackson and other recruits with eligibility concerns.
That list shows how much of a hit-or-miss it can be, and Cal has steered clear of those kinds of recruits recently. Will he feel more confident with Ayton playing for them than their chances at Bamba, Robinson and Richards, or do they end up passing on Ayton for a better shot at other elite bigs?
The good news is, for now, both Bamba and Richards plan to wait and make their decisions in the spring, so Calipari should have a firmer grasp on Ayton's situation by then. Ayton has decided when he'll commit, but has said the fall is a possibility.