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Another shot

Ayton, Hillcrest set to take on Bamba and Westtown
  • No.1 ranked player in the class of 2017 Deandre Ayton (L) will take on No.4 ranked Mo Bamba today in the Hoophall Classic. Photo: USA Today

Guardian Sports Reporter

Published: Jan 07, 2017

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Bahamas native Deandre Ayton has a shot at redemption today when his Hillcrest Prep Academy Bruins take on the Westtown School and star prospect Mohamed Bamba on the opening day of competition at the 2017 Hoophall West Basketball tournament.

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN.

Ayton is the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2017, according to ESPN, and DraftExpress currently has Ayton tabbed as the number one selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. As for Bamba, he’s considered the No. 4 player in the class of 2017 by ESPN, and projected to be the second selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, according to DraftExpress.

Bamba and his team got the best of the Bruins when they squared off in December, as Westtown edged Hillcrest 53-42.

Despite losing the game, Ayton won the one-on-one battle between the two.

Ayton played all 32 minutes and was his team’s leading scorer with 13 points, but that came on 4-17 shooting from the field, with nearly all his shots coming from out side the paint. Bamba had six points.

He also outrebounded Bamba 11-5, but Bamba had three blocks.

Following the matchup, both players acknowledged the significance of them going head-to-head, and what it does for their stock moving forward.

“I know I bring out the best in him, but he brings out the best in me,” said Bamba. “Every single time I play him, it’s special for me.”

Ayton said: “I knew playing him would be another Super Bowl of mine. We were just competing.”

In an interview this week, Ayton said that he want’s to show a little more on the floor moving forward this season.

“The word is that I have no motor, so I guess I have to work on my conditioning and continue to get in better shape,” he said. “I also want to work on my ability to put the ball on the floor, especially in the open court. Sometimes when I get the ball on a rebound, I want to be able to push the ball up the floor myself without always having to look for the point guard... just to be able to push the ball when I have the opportunity.”

Ayton committed to the University of Arizona last season, while Bamba remains undecided.

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