It looks like the Kentucky Wildcats are figuring out which elite bigs they'll prioritize in 2017.
With news that UK has begun to show less interest in Wendell Carter Jr, that had to mean that UK was about to ramp up their pursuit of DeAndre Ayton and/or Mo Bamba, if they hadn't already.
Listening to Ayton, it sounds like UK has already been showing more interest in recent months, according to Kyle Tucker of SEC Country. Ayton also told ESPN's Jeff Goodman that UK and Arizona have jumped into his top three schools in consideration.
No. 1 player DeAndre Ayton said that Kentucky and Arizona have jumped in lately -- and join Kansas in his top 3.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 7, 2016
This is great news as Ayton is the kind of game-changing player that will not only be the best recruit to come out of 2017, but will also be an early favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
You may recall how UK and other elite programs were showing little-to-no interest in Ayton, who's been ranked as the No. 1 high school prospect for almost three years now, regardless of class. That brings about a major red flag when schools are passing on such an elite prospect, which led to eligibility concerns possibly being an issue.
It turns out that was the case, or at least enough people wanted that to be believed, as rumors of Ayton possibly being ineligible for college and/or playing overseas started to fly, but Ayton later shot those rumors down while saying UK began recruiting him harder back in May.
Here's all of what Tucker had to say of Ayton during Thursday's Nike Peach Jam Session:
Ayton says Kentucky and Arizona have "come back" to his recruitment, along with early leader Kansas, after falling away in the spring over concerns whether he’d ever play in college. After bouncing around high schools, the 7-foot native of the Bahamas says he’s been in touch with the NCAA and is getting his course work squared away. He said he’s been told he’s "on track" to eligibility. And what does the No. 1 recruit in 2017 think of when he thinks of UK? "Just greatness, to be honest," he said. "They just build NBA players. Everybody that goes there is pretty good, and they just work on them and turn them into NBA players, superstars." Big news for the Cats.
Again, this is great news for Kentucky as Ayton has made it clear UK would be a school he strongly considers going to if he ends up in college.