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. Report: Louisiana Tech’s Michael White prime candidate for Tennessee vacancy

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:58 AM EDT

    Michael White AP

    According to a report, Louisiana Tech’s Michael White is the focus of Tennessee’s search for a new head coach.

  2. Report: Former Marshall guard Kareem Canty transferring to Auburn

    Apr 19, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT

    Kareem Canty AP

    Just over a week after his appeal to be released from his scholarship at Marshall was granted, Kareem Canty’s decided to transfer to Auburn.

  3. Kentucky fan follows through on promise to get tattoo honoring Willie Cauley-Stein

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship Getty Images

    A Kentucky fan promised to get a tattoo of Willie Cauley-Stein if the 7-footer returned to Lexington for his junior season. Saturday, Michael Gray followed through.

  4. 2014 shooting guard Patrick McCaw commits to UNLV

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:36 PM EDT

    Dave Rice AP

    UNLV has added another player to its 2014 recruiting class, as shooting guard Patrick McCaw verbally committed to the Mountain West program.

  5. Arizona State lands former UNLV forward Savon Goodman

    Apr 19, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    Savon Goodman, Brandon Spearman AP

    Arizona State has made another addition to its roster, landing a commitment from former UNLV forward Savon Goodman.

  6. USF forward Zach LeDay announces decision to transfer

    Apr 19, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    Zach Leday, Shaquille Thomas AP

    Forward Zach LeDay has decided to leave the USF program after spending two seasons in Tampa.

  7. Florida A&M fires head coach Clemon Johnson after three seasons

    Apr 19, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida A&M v Florida Gulf Coast Getty Images

    New Florida A&M AD Kellen Winslow Sr. has already decided that the basketball program needs a new leader, as head coach Clemon Johnson was relieved of his duties Friday.

  8. Will Tonny Trocha-Morelos finally suit up for Texas A&M?

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:25 PM EDT

    CBE Hall Of Fame Classic Getty Images

    Will highly-touted Colombian center Tonny Trocha-Morelos finally be joining the Texas A&M program?

  9. Michigan lands 2014 commitment from guard Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman

    Apr 19, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT

    2013 NBA Draft Getty Images

    Michigan had some open scholarships following the 2014 NBA Draft departures of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III and they filled one of those on Saturday with a commitment from senior guard Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman.

  10. Gonzaga will have a tough non-conference schedule in 2014-15

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:25 PM EDT

    Wichita State v Gonzaga Getty Images

    Gonzaga will have a very tough non-conference slate during the 2014-15 season.

  11. Adam Silver says raising NBA’s age limit a top priority

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Two-and-through sounds more and more likely to happen.

  12. Former Marquette commits Ahmed Hill, Satchel Pierce follow Buzz Williams to Virginia Tech

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Buzz Williams AP

    Former Marquette commits Ahmed Hill and Satchel Pierce are following former Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams to Virginia Tech as the duo committed to the Hokies on Saturday morning.

  13. POSTERIZED: SMU commit Emmanuel Mudiay flushes a ridiculous alley-oop during Jordan Brand Classic (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:03 AM EDT

    emmanuel-mudiay

    SMU commit Emmanuel Mudiay put down the best dunk at the Jordan Brand Classic.

  14. Northern Illinois extends contract of head coach Mark Montgomery through 2017-18

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Mark Montgomery Mark Montgomery

    Northern Illinois extended the contract of head coach Mark Montgomery through the 2017-18 season.

  15. Chicago duo Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander earn MVP honors as East beats West in Jordan Brand Classic

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:39 PM EDT

    Beach Ball Classic Basketball AP

    Chicago natives Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander earned MVP honors as the East beat the West in the Jordan Brand Classic.

  16. Report: Houston imposes transfer restrictions on Danuel House, TaShawn Thomas

    Apr 18, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT

    TaShawn Thomas AP

    Houston is allowing Danuel House and TaShawn Thomas to transfer, but only to certain programs.

  17. Indiana grabs commitment from prep school center (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT

    North Dakota State v Indiana Getty Images

    Indiana grabbed a commitment from a 2014 center on Friday night.

  18. Miami forward James Kelly intends to transfer

    Apr 18, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    Jim Larranaga AP

    Miami forward James Kelly is moving on.

  19. Butler loses guard Elijah Brown to transfer and adds Indiana transfer Austin Etherington

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    Brandon Miller AP

    It was a busy day for the Butler Bulldogs on Friday as freshman guard Elijah Brown intends to transfer while former Indiana wing Austin Etherington will transfer to the Big East program.

  20. Ole Miss signs Tennessee State transfer M.J. Rhett

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Ole Miss picked up a big graduate transfer on Friday when former Tennessee State forward M.J. Rhett signed with the Rebels.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'