Are you ready for an Arizona Wildcats basketball season unlike any we’ve ever seen?
I know the first game is seven months away but it might take We The People that long to prepare for this thing.
Arizona has never had a recruit of this magnitude. I’m not talking recruiting rankings; I’m using the Drooling NBA Scouts metric. One GM said Gordon would go in the top three of this year’s draft if he were eligible.
And that’s before he unleashed an aerial assault on Chicago and won the McDonald’s All-American Game MVP award.
Gordon isn’t the first future “West Coast Wildcat” to take home the Mickey D’s trophy but he’s the first to win unanimously. Chase Budinger was co-MVP in 2006 but he only scored 11 points. Khalid Reeves was the East MVP in 1990 but that game wasn’t even televised.
In today’s recruiting-mad college sports society the All-American Game is a national event and everyone who tuned in now knows who Aaron Gordon is.
Think about that. Of all the great players Lute Olson brought to Tucson, all the previous high school All-Americans, not one of them had the name recognition of this kid.
It’s going to be a crazy season. But will it be a great season?
Miller is close friends with Kentucky’s John Calipari and the East (South) Not-Coast Wildcats have proven both the boom and bust potential of targeting short-timers. If the pieces fit you can win the national championship, but if they don’t you’re losing in the first round of the NIT.
So the experiment begins and Professor Miller will have to mix his ingredients carefully. There are still two previous McD’s A-A’s on the roster. How will Gordon fit in? It’s a positive sign that fellow UA recruit Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was excited about Gordon committing even though they could be playing the same position.
Even if there are no personality issues can Miller get Gordon to play defense and team basketball? Gordon has shown he’s familiar with Arizona’s personnel and it’s encouraging that he’s already talking about team defense.
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – can Gordon stay focused during his almost-certain short stay in Tucson or will the dreams of NBA cash and the temptations that derailed Josiah Turner be too much to ignore?
I for one am excited to see how it all plays out. How can anyone say it’s a bad idea to recruit one-and-dones when it’s never been done at Arizona? Jerryd Bayless was the only Wildcat to go pro after his freshman year but it certainly wasn’t a foregone conclusion when that season started and Bayless found himself in the middle of the post-Lute coaching turmoil.
I absolutely support Sean Miller going after Gordon. How can Miller himself know what his ideal recruits look like if he doesn’t take a shot at the best of the best? If it works, 2014 becomes a year to remember for Wildcat Universe. If it doesn’t work, you part ways and it’s a learning experience for everyone.
Here’s my unsolicited advice for young Mr. Gordon:
Win. Do whatever it takes to win big in your only season of college basketball.
You don’t need to score a million points. You don’t need to audition for the NBA; you already have. You’re a 6-8 freak of an athlete who can leap McKale Center in a single bound and you’re only going to be 18 years old when the 2014 season ends. Your potential alone is worth millions and that’s not going to change.
The only thing that’s going to change in the next 12 months is your legacy at the University of Arizona and in the college game.
It’s much better to be the third or fourth scoring option on a championship team than someone who takes all the shots, scowls at his teammates, and flames out early.
Just win. Play defense, rebound, share the ball, make friends, have fun.
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