With the projected 2013 draft generating very little buzz in NBA circles, talent evaluators are already looking ahead to find the league's next potential superstar. And it could, in fact, be a player who has yet to step into a high school classroom.
DeAndre Ayton is a 6'10", 200-pound center currently starring for San Diego's Balboa Prep. He also happens to be an eighth grader who is the No. 1-ranked player in the class of 2017, according to MiddleSchoolHoops.com, Future150.com and virtually every other basketball scouting service.
At just 14 years old, Ayton is an intimidating defender, runs the floor extremely well and has a decent stroke for a player of his size. Ayton dominated the Pangos Junior All-American Camp in February and already has his own profile page on NBADraft.net.
Of course, it's hard to accurately gauge Ayton's talent since he's far more physically advanced than most players his age.
The real test will come when he plays against more experienced and more physical talents on the high school level next season. But even as a freshman, Ayton's college-ready frame should prevent him from being dominated as he continues to develop and refine his game.
Both the collegiate and professional scouting worlds are notoriously impatient, so the comparisons of Ayton to Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett have already begun. Hopefully, the burden of being the next big thing isn't too much for the eighth grader, who is at least five years away from making it to the professional level.
With far too much time until then, it's impossible to project how Ayton would fare in the NBA, but he's definitely someone to keep an eye on.
From what we've seen so far, he could be the top prospect in the 2018 draft class.