Arizona basketball: Seen & heard at McDonald's All American Game in Chicago

2013-04-04T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:30:43Z Arizona basketball: Seen & heard at McDonald's All American Game in ChicagoBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 04, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Nonstop hoops

Arizona-bound players Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon both will be hard-pressed to get to class this month.

Not only have they been in Chicago since last weekend, but they are scheduled to play in the Jordan Brand Classic next weekend in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The week after that, both will play for the USA Select team against an international team in the Nike Hoop Summit at Portland, Ore. Each of those games will require the players to arrive three days early to compete in practices, meaning they won't return home for any length of time until April 22.

"April's going to be tough to get in class, but I'm going to have to do it," said Gordon, of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif. "Mitty's a very academic-oriented school. I'm going to try to take a rest anywhere I can so I can protect my body."

One difference

Hollis-Jefferson's best comparison to a former Wildcat just might be that of Andre Iguodala, who arrived at UA in 2002 with a long, athletic body and a focus on defense.

Hollis-Jefferson had a chat with his fellow Philadelphia-area resident recently before the two flew to Denver.

Then he noticed one difference between them.

"He sat in first class," Hollis-Jefferson said.

Progress seen

After Arizona freshmen Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley played in last season's McDonald's All American Game, and Kaleb Tarczewski joined them for the Jordan Brand Classic, the pressure was on.

One of the questions hovering over the Wildcats this season was if those freshmen big men developed. Draft Express president Jonathan Givony, who is on hand for the McDonald's game, said he saw plenty of progress.

"I think they got better as the year went on," Givony said. "They definitely weren't the players they were when the season started. Brandon Ashley is 18 years old - he's one of the youngest players in his class, and you have to have patience with a guy like that."

Givony also said last year's high school seniors weren't as strong collectively, so that a player ranked 15th then might only be No. 30 this year.

"You think they're McDonald's All-Americans, so they have to come out and dominate," Givony said. "It doesn't always work out that way. But I think they're going to make a big jump their sophomore years. That's when a lot of guys traditionally make that jump."

Byrne responds

Just in case the McDonald's game and the Rutgers controversy took any spotlight off the Pac-12 officiating situation, UA athletic director Greg Byrne brought it up in his weekly email newsletter.

Byrne said for the first time that his concerns have been expressed to the Pac-12 after a report said officials coordinator Ed Rush improperly prodded officials to corral UA coach Sean Miller.

"We are very concerned about the allegations, and those concerns have been clearly expressed," Byrne wrote. "President (Ann Weaver) Hart has been very supportive, and Sean (Miller) and I have been in constant communication throughout."

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has said Rush's future will be determined after postseason consultation with coaches, athletic directors and officials.

The big number

15,818

Announced attendance at the United Center, which is contracted to hold the McDonald's game until 2015

Star power

Halftimes of both McDonald's games featured big-league entertainment: The girls game had dynamic table tennis games sponsored by the Killerspin equipment manufacturer, and the boys game featured a mini-concert by actor/singer Trevor Jackson of the science fiction TV show "Eureka."

Love for UA

Texas guard Keith Frazier chose SMU over Texas Tech earlier this week, saying Wednesday that Arizona "just faded away" during his recruitment.

There are no hard feelings, though.

"I don't even know what happened," Frazier said. "But I like Arizona. I like the team, and I like Coach Miller."

The little number

17 1/2

Age of Arizona commit Aaron Gordon, the youngest player in the McDonald's All American Game

Quotable

"This was homecoming. That was more like the prom."

Duke-bound forward Jabari Parker, comparing the McDonald's game to the four state titles he won with Chicago's Simeon High School.

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