Wildcats' Gordon named USA Basketball's athlete of year

2014-01-14T10:02:00Z 2014-01-14T11:02:58Z Wildcats' Gordon named USA Basketball's athlete of yearBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Wildcats freshman Aaron Gordon was named USA Basketball’s male Athlete of the Year today, after he led the USA to the U19 World Championship last summer.

The honor is given to the top player at all levels of the organization, which also operated a World University Games team last year and a number of national teams for younger players.

"It's a great honor," Gordon said in a statement. "USA Basketball is a really good program. I respect everybody associated with USA Basketball so for them to recognize me as male athlete of the year is an incredible feeling."

Gordon led USA Basketball to a 9-0 record in the U19 tournament with 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game despite being just 17 at the time.

The U19 victory was considered a big one for USA Basketball, which has won the event only three times in the eight championships played since 1987.

"Aaron is a great player and the thing I really give him and the rest of the players credit for is that every single one of those guys is a high-profile player and they all knew going in that there was going to be some form of sacrifice," said Florida coach Billy Donovan, the USA's U19 coach last summer. "No one was going to score 25 points, no one was going to play 35 minutes, and it had to be a collective group effort, and their buy-in ability toward that was tremendous."

Gordon also played for USA Basketball’s Hoop Summit team, with nine points and one rebound against a team of young international stars in the April event at Portland, Ore.

Previously, Gordon played for USA Basketball’s U17 and U16 teams, leading the U17 team with averages of 17.0 points and 11.2 rebounds.

"USA Basketball has know what a tremendous competitor and teammate Aaron Gordon is since he first played for USA Basketball in 2011, and what he accomplished in 2013 is special," said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball's CEO. "To earn MVP of the U19 tournament is remarkable and to do it while coming off the bench is incredible. We are very proud to recognize his performance with this award."

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