ARIZONA BASKETBALL
UA HOOPS

Gordon, on U19, 'hungry to win a gold'

2013-06-19T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:38:36Z Gordon, on U19, 'hungry to win a gold'Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Aaron Gordon's carefree summertime just shrank to about three days, and he couldn't be happier.

The incoming Arizona Wildcats freshman forward was named to USA Basketball's U19 team on Monday night, meaning he'll go straight from USA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., to Washington, D.C., this week and to the World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, next week.

Then he'll have two or three days at home in San Jose, Calif., in mid-July before flying to Tucson to take summer courses and begin practicing with the Wildcats.

For a guy who not only is loving the two-a-day workouts in Colorado but also spending time after and in between practices on his game - "I don't have time for a nap," he said - Gordon couldn't ask for anything better.

He was the only Arizona Wildcat to make the team, after forwards Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were cut on Sunday.

"I'm just completely happy," Gordon said Tuesday by telephone from Colorado Springs. "I'm hungry to win a gold medal. (U19 coach) Billy Donovan told me to be hungry, not just happy I made it."

That shouldn't be a problem. Gordon not only recorded the YouTube highlight of the trials, with a high-flying one-handed jam from the right baseline, but he has made multiple contributions all over the court.

"I've seen very few kids as determined as he is," said the Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy, who watched the first three days of the trials. "He plays with incredible energy, works as hard on his game as anybody and he not only has great ability but great instincts. I can't tell you how many times the ball went up there and - boom - he'd get it. His offensive rebounding was staggering."

Gordon said he played both forward spots and was "kind of all over the court" while trying to make a team with mostly older players. The U19 team is limited to players born on or after Jan. 1, 1994, but Gordon wasn't born until September 1995, making him only 17.

Gordon is one of only four players on the team without college basketball experience, along with Chicago center Jahlil Okafor, Houston wing Justise Winslow and Washington-bound guard Nigel Williams-Goss.

"I do believe I'm a good basketball player; I believe in myself," Gordon said. "You just have to find a way to make yourself stand out, and that's what I tried to do.

"I've just been demonstrating my character throughout it all. There's a lot of other stars on the team, and I don't do anything to step on their toes."

UA coach Sean Miller said in a statement Tuesday that he was proud of Gordon for making the team.

"It is quite an accomplishment to play for your country and compete for a gold medal," Miller said. "I have no doubt that this experience will be invaluable for Aaron as he transitions from high school to college basketball here at the U of A. We wish him and his team the best of luck in their quest to bring home the gold."

Gordon said the experience is already helping him prepare for college basketball. Not only does Donovan have some similar philosophies as and a friendship with Miller, but the assistants are the well-regarded Tony Bennett of Virginia and Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth University.

"It gives me a jump on how college coaches think and how they practice," Gordon said. Donovan is "extremely basketball smart and very assertive."

Even though sophomore Ashley and incoming freshman Hollis-Jefferson didn't make the team, Miller said they also would be better off.

"They, too, will benefit a great deal from their recent experience and will be more prepared and motivated for our season ahead," he said.

Draft Express president Jonathan Givony wrote that Hollis-Jefferson had "astounding" lateral quickness, relentless defensive pressure and good hustle through the early practices, but also glaring offensive shortcomings.

Ashley, meanwhile, struggled to make an impact during the team's first scrimmage, DeCourcy said, and still needs to gain strength.

"He has really good athletic ability, but his motor needs to be turned up a little bit, and he's got to work on finding ways to score," DeCourcy said, later adding: "It didn't hurt him to go there because it taught him a little bit of a lesson, and he played with his future teammate (Gordon), who plays as hard as anyone in the gym, so maybe that light will go on."

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Azusa Pacific at
Washington State
11/7 12:00 am
Cal Poly Pomona at
Arizona
11/9 4:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at
Arizona
11/14 6:00 pm
Coppin State at
Oregon
11/14 10:00 pm
Detroit at
Oregon
11/17 9:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
Arizona
11/19 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
Utah
11/26 6:00 pm
Northern Colorado at
Colorado
12/13 4:00 pm
Washington State at
Santa Clara
12/13 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Oregon State
12/15 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Washington
12/17 9:00 pm
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