DeAndre Ayton, 6-foot-10 eighth grader, might be ready for the NCAA right now

It’s a natural tendency to comb the NCAA Tournament for the next wave of NBA stars. It’s just as similar to look for tomorrow’s college stars in the high school ranks. What is truly rare, however, is to see a player who could already compete two levels up starring on a junior circuit.

DeAndre Ayton is definitely that, despite being months away from his first high school class. At 14, the Class of 2017 star could become even more impressive once he gets a bit more seasoning.

At the moment, Ayton is more than impressive enough on pure talent alone to merit serious consideration to his ability to make an impact on the NCAA level. Would the current San Diego (Ca.) Balboa Prep player be a star? Maybe not, but the 6-foot-10, 200-pounder is so athletic and agile, with a decent mid range shot, that he would certainly find his way on to the court.

Then again, you can judge for yourself. The video you see above was captured over the course of one single weekend tournament, with plenty of those plays coming a mere 45 minutes after he ambled off a plane in Salt Lake City.

What’s most impressive about the Bahamian native (he is of Nigerian descent, but was born in the Bahamas) is his willingness to run the floor, play tough defense and bang on the boards.

That being said, it’s hard not to be captivated by Ayton’s explosive dunks. At 14, the middle schooler is already throwing down jams in traffic, powering home putback dunks and elevating on the break to flush home with authority.

Add to that Ayton’s remarkable shooting touch -- how many 6-foot-10 players do you see stroking threes in the NBA, let alone prep ball? -- and his comfort handling the ball on the break and it’s clear to see why he will almost surely enter high school as the top overall prospect in the Class of 2017.

For now, Ayton will focus on continued progress on the court (and his progress has been massive; this was Ayton during his seventh grade season) and in the classroom, with the goal of a bright prep future before anyone can think or talk about the pros.

Given all the natural talents he has, it’s hard not to envision Ayton stepping into a collegiate future tomorrow, let alone in four years.

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