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Arizona basketball notebook: Approaches differ for signees

Hollis-Jefferson finds time to laugh; Gordon has quiet confidence
2013-04-20T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:31:22Z Arizona basketball notebook: Approaches differ for signeesBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

BEAVERTON, Ore. - If the USA Junior Select team's practice Friday was any indication, the Arizona Wildcats are receiving a pair of unmistakable yet differing presences next season.

While Aaron Gordon had his usual dominating moves inside, rattled the rims and was the last one to leave the floor while he continued to work after the drills stopped, future teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was enjoying himself all over the court at the St. Mary's Home for Boys.

Hollis-Jefferson smiled, joked and defended his way through a two-hour workout. At one point, while guarding Jabari Parker in the corner, he surrounded the standout wing and piped a few words directly in his ears.

By the end of practice, Hollis-Jefferson led the team in Smiles Forced.

"I like to have fun. Everybody knows that," Hollis-Jefferson said. "Everybody sees me 99.9 percent of the time smiling and working, so they like that about me. They like my personality and that's why I get along with so many people.

"It's all about getting better but just going out there and having fun at the same time."

Junior Select coach Mike Jones, who has coached Hollis-Jefferson and Gordon for the past three years for USA Basketball events, indicated that Hollis-Jefferson knows how to keep the silliness in bounds.

"He's an outgoing kid, a city kid. Clearly, he's not bashful," Jones said. "But he's not one of those types of kids where that's a bad thing."

Gordon, meanwhile, has a friendly demeanor on top of a serious intensity to his game. Jones had that reaffirmed when he and Gordon reunited Thursday before their first Hoop Summit workout.

"I said, 'Hey, how you been?'" Jones said. "And his response was, 'Just getting better.'"

It's that kind of friendly but no-nonsense approach that has helped make Gordon a top five player in the class of 2013, Jones indicated.

"He's quietly confident with a drive in him that not many people can match," Jones said. "He's been compared to a lot of people over the course of his years but he is unique and he's his own player. He's improved so much and that's because of his work ethic."

Jones said both UA signees have "improved tremendously" since he began working with them in 2011.

"And they started out at a pretty high level to begin with," Jones said. "They're great kids. Arizona is getting two young men that I think the entire university community will be proud of."

Busy day

After the USA Junior Select team had an abbreviated workout schedule Thursday because of travel delays, the team went all out Friday.

The Junior Select team hosted a clinic for the St. Mary's Home for Boys, a suburban Portland school for at-risk youth, then held a two-hour workout there.

They then returned to their hotel briefly before driving south of Portland to the Trail Blazers' practice facility, for another two-hour workout in front of NBA scouts.

Not that any of that bothered Gordon, who greeted several St. Mary's students after the first practice and later tweeted "I must be crazy. … I love two-a-days."

Motivated

After becoming the MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game on April 3, Gordon was 1 for 6 and scored just three points with three rebounds and had four turnovers in the Jordan Brand Classic on April 13.

He posted on Twitter that the game "was not my best," and said Friday that game still eats away at him.

"Definitely," he said. "I played terribly. I have high expectations for myself and I didn't meet it."

Rim shots

• Gordon said he was aware of Grant Jerrett's decision to leave for the NBA, but commented little on it. "Whatever is best for him is best for him," Gordon said. "It's really independent to my success."

• UA sophomore-to-be Kaleb Tarczewski was UA's only representative in last year's Hoop Summit game, going without a rebound or point in eight minutes for the USA.

• Other former UA players in the Hoop Summit game: Jerryd Bayless (15 points, 2007), J.P. Prince (scoreless, 2005), Mike Bibby (seven points, two assists, 1996), and Loren Woods (four points, two rebounds, 1996).

• Today's game will be played under international rules. Gordon said he was particularly concerned with the difference in international goaltending, since players are allowed to hit balls on the rim that do not go in the basket.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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