Skip to content

Arizona’s Aaron Gordon belongs in the conversation with the best freshmen despite what box score says

Nov 29, 2013, 9:09 PM EDT

source:

From Nov. 20th thru Dec. 1st, I’ll be on the road, hitting 21 games in 11 days. To follow along and read my stories from the road, click here.

NEW YORK — The headlines this season have been dominated by talk of ‘The Big Three’.

Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle. Which freshmen is the best player in the country? Who do you take No. 1 in the draft? Who will be the best player five years down the road? Is Wiggins T-Mac or Scottie Pippen? Is Parker Paul Pierce or Carmelo? Is Randle Chris Webber or Zach Randolph? Who wins a game of horse? If locked in a room for three hours with nothing but an X-Box 1 and FIFA 14, who leaves that room with the best record?

OK, those last two may not be real, but you get my point. The coverage that those three have received over the first three weeks of the season has been exhaustive, to the point that the average fan may not realize that those three are far from the only potentially great players in college basketball this season, let alone the only great freshmen.

On Friday night in Madison Square Garden, No. 4 Arizona’s freshman phenom got his first chance to showcase his ability on national television, as the Wildcats took on No. 6 Duke in the finals of the Preseason NIT on national television. Arizona won, 72-66, and a quick glance at the box score will make it seem as if Gordon blew his chance.

10 points on 4-for-6 shooting to go along with seven boards?

(MORE: Duke’s lack of size should not an excuse any longer)

That’s good. It’s certainly not head-turning. He may get his name put on Sportscenter’s graphic at the end of the highlights. He may not. “We as a group have to find ways to use his offensive talent even more,” head coach Sean Miller said.

But that stat-line doesn’t do his performance on Friday justice, because Gordon was arguably the most important player on the floor for Arizona.

Think about it like this: Jabari Parker has been the best scorer in the country this season. He entered the game averaging 23.6 points and shooting 60.9% from three in games. Those comparisons to Melo and Pierce? Well, they’re valid, at least in they’re ability to score the ball. He can overpower a smaller opponent in the post and make a bigger defender look silly on the perimeter. I’m not sure there is a better all-around offensive talent that’s not currently getting an NBA paycheck.

And Gordon locked him down. For the first time this season, Parker didn’t score 20 points. He did finish with 19, but he was 7-for-21 from the field and 0-for-5 from three. The most important stat? Gordon picked up his second foul with 6:58 left in the first half and didn’t get off the bench afterwards. In that time, Parker was 4-for-6 from the floor and scored of those 19 points. With Gordon on the floor, Parker was 3-for-15 from the field.

Gordon has the potential to be a game-changer on the defensive end of the floor because of his athleticism and versatility. There aren’t many players out there that he can’t guard.

But that’s not the only place he effects the game for the Wildcats.

“Aaron Gordon isn’t going to score 30,” Miller said. “He’s not a volume shooter. He’s a basketball player. He guarded Hood and Parker. He finished with seven boards. He made a couple of the best passes on offense. He made a big three point shot.”

Most importantly, Gordon in unselfish. He doesn’t care if he doesn’t score 30 points. He doesn’t force offense. It seems, at least from my view court side, that Gordon is solely concerned with one stat: the final score. “He’s a great teammate and everything flows better when he’s out there,” Miller said. It’s worth noting here that Gordon also added four assists and two blocks.

What become evident on Wednesday night was that Arizona is an elite defensive team. They have size inside, they have guards than can really hawk the ball on the perimeter and they have two of the most versatile players in the country in Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. It’s incredible, when you think about it. The Wildcats were able to matchup with Duke when they played five perimeter players, but they can also matchup with Baylor’s biggest lineup.

There aren’t many teams in the country that are capable of doing that.

Arizona is, and Gordon is the biggest reason why.

So he may not put up the same numbers as the likes of Parker, Randle or Wiggins and his ability may not be readily apparent in a box score, but rest assured, his value to this Arizona team cannot be under-stated.

Latest Posts
  1. SMU, Louisville headline Indiana’s non-conference schedule

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Indiana will take on the SMU, Louisville, Georgetown, Butler and Pittsburgh before the New Year.

  2. Four-star 2016 guard remains ineligible to play this season

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline Kelly Kline

    The 6-foot-2 guard has 30 days to appeal the decision.

  3. Kentucky gives walk-on a scholarship for 2014-2015 season

    Aug 29, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    According to a report on Friday, a Kentucky sophomore earned a scholarship.

  4. College dunk champ Marcus Lewis shows off against streetball all-star team (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Marcus Lewis

    Marcus Lewis defeated Cory Jefferson and Adreian Payne in the college slam dunk contest in April

  5. Former Illinois great tweets why Jalen Brunson should stay in state

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptg1y2mznddmzmeymjrjowyxmgfky2zhndqymjlhnjvh AP

    Dee Brown, a member of Illinois’ national runner-up team in 2005, would love to see Brunson in an Illinois uniform.

  6. College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    News and notes from around the world of college basketball.

  7. Former Michigan center discusses hasty departure for the NBA (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Mitch McGary AP

    Mitch McGary discusses the circumstances that led to his early departure.

  8. American Athletic Conference releases 2014-15 schedule

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

    Kevin Ollie AP

    The teams expected by many to finish in the top five will all face each other twice in 2014-15.

  9. Medical issue forces FGCU freshman guard to redshirt

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:36 AM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida Gulf Coast v Radford Getty Images

    Zach Johnson was a player the Eagles could have used to add some depth to their backcourt.

  10. Five-star Californian to visit six schools before making a decision

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Four Pac-12 schools remain in the running for the services of the former Arizona commit.

  11. Combo guard becomes Providence’s third 2015 commitment

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT

    Ed Cooley AP

    Drew Edwards’ relationship with Providence head coach Ed Cooley was one reason why he chose PC.

  12. Top 100 Ohio native focused on five schools

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Esa Ahmad’s list includes Ohio State and two other Big Ten programs.

  13. Five-star 2015 center trims list to five

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Diamond Stone has cut his list to five schools, but just one has also offered friend Malik Newman.

  14. Montana State freshman won’t enroll this semester

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT

    Eric Evans/Oregon Athletics Eric Evans/Oregon Athletics

    6-foot-10 forward/center Kavell Bigby-Williams would have given the Bobcats some additional size in the paint.

  15. Dismissed Maryland center finds a new school

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT

    Bruce Pearl AP

    Trayvon Reed, who was dismissed from the Maryland program following his arrest on multiple charges earlier this summer, will enroll at Auburn in December.

  16. Former coach in King James AAU program sentenced to 15 years for Ponzi scheme

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:43 PM EDT

    Glen Galemmo coached a talented group, including Duke-bound Luke Kennard (AP) Glen Galemmo coached a talented group, including Duke-bound Luke Kennard (AP)

    There are already five players on the team Galemmo coached that have committed to high major programs.

  17. American extends head coach Mike Brennan’s contract

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    He deserved it after the season his Eagle team had.

  18. Domestic dispute led Anthony Johnson to withdraw from Charleston search

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    There’s now a reason why Charleston couldn’t hire their most famous alum.

  19. DePaul’s Purnell loses fifth recruit that signed letter of intent

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT

    Oliver Purnell AP

    He’s only been at DePaul for four years.