Arizona Wildcats basketball: On York's ankle and Gordon's trophy

2014-01-14T12:47:00Z 2014-01-14T13:05:25Z Arizona Wildcats basketball: On York's ankle and Gordon's trophyBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Wildcats sophomore guard Gabe York is expected to return Thursday against ASU after injuring his ankle Sunday at USC.

UA coach Sean Miller played York only three minutes in the second half because of the injury but said it now appears that "he should be fine."

"It was more precautionary that we didn't play him in the second half," Miller said.

UA's weekly press conferences usually feature two selected players talking for about 10 minutes and Miller talking separately for about 15 but today Miller and Aaron Gordon sat together -- next to the USA Basketball trophy for male athlete of the year.

Miller praised his freshman forward in much the same manner as did Florida coach Billy Donovan, who coached Gordon on the U19 team that Gordon was the MVP for last summer.

"One of the things I tried to do before Aaron got here was I talked a lot to Billy Donovan about him, because he had such a great run, the team had great success and Aaron had great success," Miller said. "It's interesting, because a lot of the things I got from Billy in that conversation, I could press the tape recorder and I could say the same things that he said to me.

"Those things were that Aaron Gordon is a winner. That he's a fantastic teammate. And when you describe his game, you don't necessarily put your finger on one thing but you learn to appreciate the whole -- how he defends, how he runs the floor, the fact that he can pass and rebound, the way he scores is sometimes unique but by the same token, in our game today, blends well, with other really good players."

Gordon lowered his head almost bashfully during Miller's praise. When Miller was done, Gordon said, "Thanks coach."

The honor was one Gordon said he'd known about for a couple of weeks, ever since his mother sent him a text message with several exclamation points in it.

Saying he was honored to be on the same list as players he looks up to such as LeBron James (the 2012 winner), Gordon was still excited to talk about it today.

"There's a couple of guys up there who have won it that I really admire their basketball talents," Gordon said. "To be affiliated with them, to receive an award like this, is really an honor. It's really kind of surreal to be in the same category as them."

A full list of past winners is on USA Basketball's official release about the award.

ASU won't just be bringing the same old gang back to McKale Center, with Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski. There's also guard Jermaine Marshall, the transfer from Penn State who is ASU's second-leading scorer (15.6) and shooting 49.2 percent overall and 46 percent from three-point range.

"He's one of our confernece's best guards," Miller said. "Statistically speaking, when Arizona State's at their best he seems to have a big night. He's a kid who can score. Not just a shooter but somebody who can score. And a lot like Mark Lyons, anytime you've been through several Big Ten seasons, that experience is something that you draw, he not only brings a very good player to the table but another veteran, experienced player as well."

After today's news conference, Miller then spoke via the Pac-12's weekly teleconference call. Among other things, he was asked if the top freshmen are living up to the hype this season. 

"Obviously, the players who are put in that category are immensely talented and deserve a lot of credit," Miller said. "But what the media sometimes doesn't understand is that basketball is a team game. ... I have a hard time believing that there are many players better than (UCLA sophomore) Kyle Anderson.  Take a look at how talented he is and what he's doing.

"We're lucky because Aaron Gordon is such a great kid and his style is not about shooting and scoring, so maybe it’s different to blend him into a team dynamic."

ASU coach Herb Sendek was asked about Miller, who worked under Sendek at Miami (Ohio) and N.C. State.

"Sean is the complete and total package as a coach," Sendek said. "He's an excellent recruiter and strategist, and a very good communicator and competitor."

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