The buzz is as big as ever surrounding the Arizona Wildcats mens basketball team.
Coming off a sweet 16 season with key players returning and high hopes for some of the new faces joining the team.
One of those new faces is prized gem of the 2013 recruiting class, Aaron Gordon.
It was an unbelievable spring and summer for the incoming freshman out of Archbishop Mitty high school in Northern California. He was selected to the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago where he made his announcement of coming to the University of Arizona and was later named MVP. Over the summer, he made the roster for the USA under 19 mens basketball team. After winning a gold medal, he was also named the team’s MVP.
It was a stretch of a few months that Gordon will never forget.
“It was a big milestone in my life,” said Gordon. “Growing up I always looked up to USA basketball players, looked up to McDonald’s All-Americans, so to be a part of that and achieve a lot out of it means a lot to me. It just really helped my confidence.”
Gordon just recently turned 18 years-old. Which means he was a 17 year-old playing with players two years older than him on USA Basketball and still stood out on the floor. It proved to him that he could not only play against his age, he can play with older proven players on top of their game at the college level as well.
“The U19 team was amazing,” mentioned Gordon. “I was only 17 years-old and a lot younger than a lot of the guys out there. Being around division I guys like Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), it was just a great, great sense of knowledge. They all had a lot to teach me about the game and I picked it up like a sponge.”
With all of that now behind him, Gordon now shifts his focus to the Wildcats. When he first committed, he spoke of the history and tradition of the program. Now that he has finally arrived in Tucson and is wearing an Arizona uniform, it is everything he had hoped and more.
“It feels absolutely incredible and I know all that is going to come out of it is good,” Gordon stated. “Everybody on this team is ready to go and all anyone cares about on this team is winning.”
For a player that has been considered one of the top players in the nation, a player that has received accolade after accolade and a player many think could be an instant lottery pick in the NBA after this season, you would think there might be an element of entitlement that would come along with it. But if you asked Arizona head coach Sean Miller, it has been just the opposite since he stepped foot on the floor.
“The reason that everyone in the world talks about him as a basketball player is because of what he’s earned, not just because of what he’s supposed to be” said Miller. “The biggest compliment I can pay Aaron is that he acts like he is 22 years old in terms of the maturity he has. But if doesn’t matter if you’re a coach, a manager or an older teammate, if you talk to him, he is engaged, he listens, he wants to get better. He has things he knows he has to work on. He’s a approach as I would put it has been drop-dead professional. He is a pleasure to have in our program. There is no pre-Madonna in him.”
“I just do what it takes to win,” Gordon explained. “It means a lot that coach is saying that but I am not trying to impress anybody. I am just trying to be here and show my team that we are here to win.”
The Wildcats practice is under way in Tucson leading up to them hitting the floor for their first game of a highly anticipated 2013-14 season on Friday, November 8th against Cal Poly.