CHICAGO – If there’s one question about Aaron Gordon’s decision Tuesday, it wasn’t if he could play for the Arizona Wildcats.
But even though Gordon is a natural power forward at 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds, he doesn’t necessarily see himself squeezing into a crowded post rotation that also includes Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley, Angelo Chol and Matt Korcheck.
He said he sees himself at the three, at least much of the time, with some duty at power forward. So when asked how he would fit in at Arizona, Gordon did not hesitate.
“Very well,” Gordon said. “I hope to be the X factor. I need work on my outside shot but that’s coming along. Basically, I need a lot of gym time, lot of repetition, but a lot of that will come along.”
Having played what his high school coach calls a “point-post” position at Mitty High School, Gordon expressed similar confidence about how he can handle the ball.
“Very well,” he said. “That’s what I pride myself on being -- a 6-9 guy who’s able to dribble.”
It is hardly unusual talk for a high-level big man in high school – “Show me a power forward and I’ll show you a kid who thinks they’re a small forward,” says Scout’s Josh Gershon – but it is the multiskilled Gordon doing the talking.
So nobody’s putting it past him yet.
“He could be the second or third best player in his class in terms of pro potential because he’s the youngest player of this group,” says Jonathan Givony, president of Draft Express, noting that Gordon is just 17 ½. “He’s already really good but his upside is just off the charts. That’s why I wouldn’t put a ceiling on him. If he says I’m going to be a small forward I wouldn’t laugh at him, but say, `OK, let’s see.’ “
Gershon said Gordon actually has a good opportunity to grow into the role at Arizona, too.
“The good thing is that Arizona has a terrific three in Rondae Jefferson who can come in and play the bulk of the minutes at the position,” Gershon said. “Aaron Gordon is certainly capable of backing him up. He’s not a player who is ready for a huge amount of minutes right away at small forward but he’s trying to improve his perimeter skills.
“I’m the first one to say it’s very rare that a post player can move on to the perimeter. With Gordon, like anyone else, it would be a long-term project but he does have the necessary lateral quickness and athleticism where he could ultimately in a best case scenario do it."
ESPN's Paul Biancardi says Gordon could be the "missing piece" for UA to make a deeper NCAA tournament run next season while Rob Dauster of NBC Sports says Sean Miller now has a "ridiculous amount of talent."
We looked into the analytical process Gordon went through in choosing UA.
Gordon's decision was a blow for Washington, which has been recruiting Gordon for years.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said having a chance to play in tonight's McDonald's All-American Game (6:30 p.m., ESPN), a "dream come true."
Full rosters for tonight's games can be found on the McDonalds Game official website.
We had some seen-and-heard notes from the McDonald's Media Day on Tuesday.
Jefferson was named Pennsylvania's 4A player of the year.
As a kid in Indiana, new UCLA coach Steve Alford said he had an early awareness of John Wooden.
T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times is less than impressed with the new guy in Westwood.
Norman Powell said he decided to remain a Bruin when Alford took the job.
While hiring Dunk City's Andy Enfield, USC athletic director Pat Haden says he wants to make basketball "relevant" at USC. Enfield will be formally introduced today.
Mike Rice is out at Rutgers.