The Drew Gooden Soldiers wanted to start four guards at times this past spring and summer but 2012 power forward Brandon Ashley was playing so well coach Derrick Artis had to keep him on the court.
"He started off kind of slow in the EYBL, it was his first event, he was just getting his feet wet and then it was the second or third event that he just took over," Artis said.
"In the beginning he started and then we started playing four guards but he was playing so well that we had to go back to him and he played well. He got better and better as the spring and summer went on."
On a team full of standouts and high-level players like Jabari Brown, Josiah Turner and Kyle Wiltjer, Ashley not only held his own but thrived at certain tournaments including the Fab 48 in Las Vegas which the Soldiers won.
Rivals.com rates Ashley as the second-best power forward in the 2012 class behind only Khem Birch and sixth overall and he more than backed up that ranking this summer.
Ashley scored inside, rebounded well, ran the floor and blocked or altered numerous shots and Artis said Ashley has become much more competitive.
"He's good and he's young," Artis said. "He basically could be a sophomore this year but he's doing well. He's trying to work on his strength right now.
"That's the only thing that kind of keeps him from doing anything on the court. He's super skilled, long and competitive. He's getting to play against older guys and he's playing at a high level."
His recruitment is wide open but Artis said he gets the feeling that Arizona stands out because Ashley has already taken a visit there and that Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas are also high on the list. There's also a good chance that the Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd standout could stay in the Pac-10.
"He's kind of wide open," Artis said. "I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed Pac-10 but he definitely has all the big guys on him."