As the head coach of the still-yet-to-play basketball team at San Diego’s Balboa City School, Ollie Goulston’s phone is already ringing off the hook.
That’s because his new roster just so happens to include DeAndre Ayton, the big man from the Bahamas that ESPN rates the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2017.
And, even though Goulston was the former coach and mentor of former UA forward Angelo Chol, he says he is taking the Wildcats’ calls. Chol transferred to San Diego State after the 2012-13 season but Goulston said there’s no problem left over, noting that UA graduate assistant JayDee Luster was a former player of his at Hoover High School.
“Arizona has called,” Goulston said. “Everything’s wide open. We’re fine. JayDee was my guy. So we’re fine. I’ve been doing this long enough where I’ve had guys transfer before. I don’t have hard feelings. I thought it was the right decision for Angelo at the time and Sean did a great job with him. It was just one of those things.”
This time, Goulston and Balboa City executive director Zack Jones have become mentors for Ayton, who has attended Balboa City for three years after moving from the Bahamas.
Jones, who once coached onetime UA center Jeff Withey at San Diego's Horizon High School, hired Goulston to start up the basketball program. Goulston says Balboa City will play a national schedule, like Nevada’s Findlay Prep and Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy, while he and Jones have put many of their incoming players on the “Supreme Court” team in this week’s Fab 48.
The Supreme Court played Team Loaded of Richmond, Va., on Thursday evening in a lower U17 division, at a satellite location with no stands. But coaches and other viewers still packed the sidelines. Even a coach from Team Loaded said he’d looked up Ayton on YouTube.
It’s easy to see why Ayton is drawing so much interest. As ESPN noted, he has something of a Kevin Garnett-type frame, with athleticism and length in abundance, and developing skills in the post.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” Goulston said. “He’s got it all. The whole package.”
Goulston declined to make Ayton available for comment but said the player is not yet thinking about his recruitment anyway.
“He’s just worried about getting better as a player, and a person,” Goulston said.
Dream Vision guard Justin Simon said he’s having a relaxing summer because he’s able to focus solely on basketball after committing to UA in May. He said he does not hear from other schools wondering if he’s really firm on that commitment.
“I’m pretty sure they knew it was a great fit for me,” Simon said. “I’m going to a great staff, just an overall great school. It’s five hours from my house (in Temecula, Calif.). My parents can drive there if they want to and so that location was a fit. Arizona’s the fit.”
A year ago, incoming UA freshman Stanley Johnson pulled double duty in Las Vegas, playing for both Mater Dei’s entry into the Fab 48 (the “Big Red” team) and for the Oakland Soldiers in the Las Vegas Classic.
“It’s pretty tiring,” Johnson said then.
His former Mater Dei teammate, 2016 forward M.J. Cage, took note. Cage opted to play only for the Big Red this week, leaving behind Cal Supreme and coach Miles Simon.
“I don’t want my legs to get like that,” Cage said.
Playing with Big Red helps Cage mesh in early with next year’s Mater Dei team, which will have to adjust without Johnson, who played multiple starring roles for its state championship team.
“I’m surprised that we’re doing good,” Cage said. “We have all new teammates and we’re playing well together. We just have to pass more and move the ball more. If we move the ball we can win.”