Mike Schmitz: Trae Young's historic production and inescapable Stephen Curry comparisons have gobbled up college basketball headlines this season. But as Young has dropped 40-piece after 40-piece, fellow freshman Deandre Ayton is quietly having one of the most productive and efficient seasons by a 7-footer in recent memory, continuing to build his long-standing case as the top prospect in the 2018 NBA draft.
Arizona's cyborg is averaging 19.5 points and 10.7 rebounds in 32.2 minutes per game while shooting 62.9 percent from 2 and 34.5 percent from 3 -- all at 7-foot-½ and 261 pounds with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, the body of Zeus, the quickness of a welterweight fighter and ballerina-like balance.
To put Ayton's production into perspective, only three players younger than 20 in NCAA history have averaged at least 19 points and 10 rebounds with a true shooting percentage better than 65.0: Blake Griffin, David Robinson and Ayton. Despite Arizona's underachieving relative to expectations (20-6), the 19-year-old from the Bahamas has been a steady force, posting at least double-digit points or rebounds in 24 of 26 games while showing tremendous durability.
Ayton's rare combination of productivity, NBA-ready physique and upside has him slated as the No. 2 prospect on our current top 100. But why isn't Ayton the runaway No. 1 pick?