The Oregon student section never let up on him.
The Arizona Wildcats ended up losing to the Ducks in overtime after a wild day that saw Sean Miller stay away from the sidelines after being implicated in the FBI probe.
Yet amid all the adversity, Deandre Ayton played perhaps his best game in an Arizona jersey last night.
Ayton, of course, was also mentioned in Mark Schlabach’s ESPN report, which said Miller discussed a $100,000 payment in order to secure Ayton’s commitment.
The family of the Wildcats’ big man vehemently denied any involvement through a statement.
Arizona freshman DeAndre Ayton was questioned by FBI about alleged pay-for-play scheme and denied knowledge; his attorney asks for FBI and NCAA to clear his name pic.twitter.com/9cBJzPZQm8
— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) February 25, 2018
Ayton’s personal response to all the controversy?
A double-double at Oregon in the first half. He finished the game with 28 points and 19 rebounds. The biggest criticism of Arizona’s loss is that they didn’t find Ayton more scoring opportunities — his final field goal came with just over 10 minutes to go in the second half.
Arizona’s Parker Jackson-Cartwright addressed the stress Ayton is under after last night’s loss.
“I can only imagine what he’s going through,” Jackson-Cartwright said, per ESPN. “There’s a big spotlight on him. But like I said, he comes each day ready to work, he handles himself like a professional, he gets better — and without him, we’re not here, we’re not playing like we are.”
The senior guard added a statement that feels particularly true with Miller and Allonzo Trier both absent from the program.
“He’s a big reason for our success, and we need him to keep playing.”
After last night’s loss, Ayton posted a quote onto Twitter — perhaps the only glimpse into his thought process we’ll get since he wasn’t made available to the media after last night’s loss.
— Deandre Ayton (@DeandreAyton) February 25, 2018
Regardless of what, if any, involvement Ayton had in the scandal at Arizona, one thing seems clear.
The Wildcats will ride or die with their big man, and he seems more determined than ever to power his way through any obstacle.
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