Top NBA draft prospects Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley have Valley ties

PHOENIX - Two of the likely top picks in this year's NBA draft have ties to the Valley. In fact, for a brief period, the two even played together.

Both Duke's Marvin Bagley III and University of Arizona's Deandre Ayton both spent time at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix. Hillcrest Prep is a competitive high school basketball program.

Bagley III wound up leaving for another program after a short stint at Hillcrest Prep. Ayton stayed for two years before heading to Arizona.

Current Hillcrest Prep Basketball Coach Howard Thomas, who joined after Bagley left the program, says he enjoyed his time working with Ayton.

"I've coached some pros, I've coached some high-level D-1 guys," Thomas said of Ayton. "He is by far, by far and away, the most can't-miss kid I've ever coached."

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Thomas says it's incredible both Ayton and Bagley, primed to be top picks in the draft, both played on the same team in the Valley.

"Can't-miss kids," he said.

Bagley III has even more Valley ties, having played at Tempe Corona del Sol High School before joining Hillcrest Prep.

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