There’s a lot on Deandre Ayton’s plate right now. After signing a shoe deal with basketball up-and-comer PUMA, the 19-year-old went No. 1 overall to the Phoenix Suns in last month’s NBA draft. Now he’s charged with helping rebuild a franchise that hasn’t made the postseason since 2010. But nothing has overwhelmed Ayton quite like meeting Diana Taurasi, the former University of Arizona star told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
“I was freaking out. She said, ‘hello’, ‘great to have you’. I was like star-struck. I was speechless. She’s the Michael Jordan of the WNBA.”
Taurasi considered the greatest WNBA player ever
There’s a reason Ayton called Taurasi “the Michael Jordan of the WNBA.” The 2009 WNBA MVP is a three-time WNBA champion, a two-time WNBA Finals MVP and a five-time scoring champ. She also has four Olympic gold medals and is the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer at 7,867 points and counting.
The 36-year-old shows no signs of slowing down, either. Taurasi is currently averaging 20.1 points per game on 43.6 percent shooting; both are numbers slightly above her career averages. Taurasi has spent her entire 14-year career in Phoenix.
Ayton is set to debut in the NBA Summer League on Friday
Ayton makes his professional debut on Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET when the Suns take on the Mavericks in the Summer League. Phoenix then faces Sacramento on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET and Orlando on Monday at 9:30 p.m. ET. There’s a tournament following the three-game set; every team is guaranteed at least five games in total.
Ayton is already impressing teammates and head coach Igor Kokoskov in practice:
He’s going to be one of the most dominant centers in this league. That’s how we see him. That’s how we’re going to build him. His feel for the game, passing skills, all this stuff is going to make him be a better player. Not that many bigs can do and has a package that he has.
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