Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross shoots over the outstretched arm of Arizona's Grant Jerrett for the game-winning three-pointer with two seconds remaining at Staples Center.


If freshman guard Gabe York had timed his arrival to the Arizona Wildcats a year earlier, life might be different.

Entering last season, the Wildcats had lost point guard MoMo Jones and Daniel Bejarano to transfers.

They had Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender at shooting guard, but Lavender had yet to have an improved senior season.

At point guard, sophomore Jordin Mayes was coming off foot surgery and freshman Josiah Turner would quickly prove a bust.

There was opportunity in the backcourt. But the only newcomer around to take advantage of it was freshman Nick Johnson, who averaged 28.1 minutes and started 28 of 35 games.

This season, when York arrived as a top-75 recruit with the ability to score in bunches, minutes were scarcer. The Wildcats lost Fogg but received surprise spring addition Mark Lyons. They lost Turner, but that was a case of addition by subtraction.

Johnson and Mayes are back, while the Wildcats are going bigger, not needing shooting guards at small forward (as they often did with Fogg last season) and even using forward Kevin Parrom at small forward.

York has played in only 8 of 12 games and has averaged just 6.3 minutes a game.

Basically, he's the 10th man in a nine-man rotation.

"It has been difficult," York said during the Diamond Head Classic last weekend.

"I've been doing everything I possibly can just to get as many minutes as I can on the floor. Obviously, I've got great players in front of me."

It isn't easy to be patient in college basketball these days, when friends, family and social media can all put pressure on highly recruited players who aren't playing much to think about going elsewhere.

But York's mother, Deborah, said her son remains solidly a Wildcat. In a way, so is she, having moved from Southern California to Tucson to offer support.

"We didn't pack boxes and come here so we could move in five months," she said. "We're committed. This is everything to him. It isn't just 'we'll go and see what happens.'"

Deborah York said she believes if Gabe can get through his freshman year he will be much stronger for the experience.

Johnson, who had the benefit of more opportunity as a freshman, is supportive.

"Gabe is a young player, and at times that can be frustrating because he doesn't get a lot of minutes, but he's stayed true to our team," Johnson said. "He's a great team player. He works his butt off every single day. Everybody loves him on the team. He's going to be a great player when the time comes."

That time may not come this season, nor may it much next season, with Johnson and Mayes expected back and Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell becoming eligible just in time to replace Lyons.

But there's always a chance of an injury or foul trouble limiting the Wildcat backcourt, when York may be needed.

Maybe even this season.

"Over the long course of the season, a lot could happen," coach Sean Miller said. "To have someone like Gabe in a good place … I have no doubt that at one point in his career, as long as he stays with it, he's going to be an excellent player for us."

The Wildcats may have seen a glimpse of it last Saturday, when York hit 2 of 4 three-point attempts in eight minutes against East Tennessee State in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic.

"It felt good," York said after that game. "I was in the right spots defensively, and offensively I hit a couple of shots to get me going."

York said he's still adjusting on defense and to the physicality of the college game, but Miller said York has already made progress.

"Gabe did a nice job when he got an opportunity, which doesn't surprise me because he's been really consistent every day in practice," Miller said. "His time will come.

"You can tell from an offensive perspective he's really talented. And he's really gotten better on defense. He practices really hard, and he's a fantastic kid. He took advantage of his opportunity, and it was great to see."

On StarNet: Follow the Cats at azstarnet.com/pascoe

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