When an explosive ESPN report published on Feb. 23 alleged that Arizona coach Sean Miller was heard on an FBI wiretap discussing a $100,00 payment to bring Deandre Ayton to play for him in Tucson, Ayton's college eligibility -- and Miller's future at the helm of the program -- was put in peril.

In the two weeks since the report, much has happened: Arizona has chosen to stand by Miller, who has vehemently denied the allegations. And Ayton, a stellar freshman primed to be one of the top picks in the NBA Draft, hasn't missed a beat -- nor a game.

That was never more evident than Friday night at the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. Ayton pushed out 32 points and carried Arizona by the bootstraps for a 78-67 overtime victory against UCLA. The freshman accounted for seven of Arizona's 11 points in the extra period to lead his team to the conference championship game.

As big a distraction as the report likely was off the court, Ayton's somehow been better on it in the weeks since. He has quietly transformed himself from a unicorn prospect to dark horse Player of the Year candidate, averaging 21.6 points and 13.6 rebounds in a five-game sample size over the past two weeks.

CBS Sports' Gary Parrish has Ayton second in his latest NBA mock draft, behind Duke's Marvin Bagley. And CBS Sports' Reid Forgrave, in a mock draft focused on "max upside," also put Ayton second, behind Texas' Mohamed Bamba.

So does Ayton believe he should be the top pick in the NBA Draft?

"Yes," he answered confidently on Friday. "I play hard every day. Nobody has the competitiveness like me. I think I'm different from everybody else."

Oddly enough, Ayton's been on a bit of a roller-coaster. Sure, the stats look good on paper. But he's alternated between dandies and duds over the past two weeks, the most recent example being a 10 point, 6 rebound showing on Thursday, five days after going for 26 and 20.

So what did he do a day after putting up only 10 and 6? Try 32 and 14.

Dandy, dud.

If Arizona can continue to milk the former out of Ayton, who has saved his best ball for the stretch run of the season, a Pac-12 title -- which is now a mere 40 minutes away -- might be the first of two championships headed the Wildcats' way this postseason.