College basketball: Meet Arizona's Deandre Ayton
If you haven't had the chance to watch the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats, it's time to change that. Arizona freshman Deandre Ayton is averaging 20.2 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game — all of which are team-highs — while shooting 63 percent from the field.
After dropping all three games in the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Wildcats (14-4) have won 11 of their last 12 games and are sitting in first place in the Pac-12. The 7-1, 250-pound forward is a big — no pun intended — reason why. He has 12 double-doubles in Arizona's 18 games this season, most notably a 29-point, 18-rebound performance against Alabama in December. While still a work in progress, Ayton can even stretch the floor at times beyond the 3-point line, where he has made 33.3 percent of his attempt this season.
Due to his efficiency at the rim, where he has made nearly 85 percent of his attempts, per hoop-math.com, Ayton is one of the most efficient scorers in the country. He has a free throw rate of 42.3 percent, meaning the freshman takes roughly four free throw attempts for every 10 field goal attempts.
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Perhaps his most impressive advanced metric is his defensive rebounding. Ayton ranks in the top 15 nationally, grabbing 29.1 percent of opponent's missed shots, which goes a long way in limiting second chance scoring opportunities. Along with Arizona's pair of talented guards in Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins, and another 7-footer in center Dusan Ristic, Ayton may be the missing piece added to the Wildcats' core from their 32-win team last season that leads to a deep tournament run this year.