After growing up in France and being labeled a four-star recruit, Joel Ayayi committed to play college basketball for Gonzaga University back in 2017. Though he’s not a top prospect in the upcoming draft, Ayayi has shown signs of potential in the big stage. As a 6’5″ guard, he can play both the point guard and can also be more of an off-ball guard. He can shoot the ball, facilitate and play solid defense as well. He has weaknesses regarding physicality so it’ll be interesting to see him play at a high level. Ayayi is expected to be taken late 1st round or early 2nd round.
Joel Ayayi 2021 NBA Draft Profile
Ayayi committed to Gonzaga in April of 2017 and redshirted his first season so he could train with the program. The year after, Joel played 23 games in his redshirt freshman season but only averaged slightly under six minutes a contest. At the time, the Bulldogs had Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Killian Tillie, and a likely lottery pick prospect in Corey Kispert. After a disappointing loss in the Elite 8, the team had a slight revamp allowing Ayayi to get more playing time.
The following season was a massive improvement for Ayayi. He averaged around 11 points and 6 rebounds in around 30 minutes of playing time. He helped lead Gonzaga to a 31-2 record before the shutdown. Many scouts saw the improvement in Ayayi’s game and took it into consideration. He declared for the 2020 NBA draft in April but decided to withdraw after not hiring an agent. At the time, Ayayi was unsure if he would be drafted. Several mock drafts had Ayayi going in the 2nd round but some others had him go undrafted. He stuck with Gonzaga for another year.
In January of 2020, highly regarded recruit Jalen Suggs committed to Gonzaga. The backcourt of Suggs and Ayayi was looked at with great regard. In his junior season, Ayayi averaged 12 points on incredible efficiency and was named All-WCC First Team. His best performance was a triple-double in early January of 2021 when he recorded 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 14 assists. This would be recorded as the 1st triple-double in program history and the second-most assists in a single game in program history. Gonzaga made the NCAA National Championship which was helped by a wonderful 22-point performance by Ayayi in the final four.
Joel Ayayi is a skilled scorer and he is efficient. In his junior season at Gonzaga, Ayayi averaged 12 points per game on 57.5% shooting. From inside the perimeter, he recorded an absurd 68.3%, and his outside shot isn’t bad either. He is a good rebounder for his size as well, averaging around 7 rebounds a game in his junior season despite only being 6’5″. He is relatively athletic too and defends well. Ayayi isn’t much of a playmaker but has shown that he can create for others as well.
Ayayi isn’t very strong for his height, so physicality could be an issue with his play but he has room to improve. He doesn’t really seek contact and get to the free-throw line much either. He wasn’t very productive towards the end of games during the NCAA tournament either. His shot is well but still slightly inconsistent.
It is tough to make an accurate comparison for Ayayi, but you can definitely look at Ayayi as a player similar to Kendrick Nunn or someone along the lines of Aaron Brooks. Both were skilled scorers and solid defenders with their shots being good but varying.
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