Aaron Gordon came into his final game for Archbishop Mitty (and as a high-schooler in general) with plenty of expectations about what he would deliver.
However, in the California Open Division final, the hopeful future college and NBA prospect emerged with a tough defeat from his final game in high school—a far cry from the dominance that many expected from the teenage star.
For a player with such a bright future, it was no doubt a tough loss to take, and the forward instantly took to blaming himself.
"I hate it," Gordon said. "I can't stand it—to end a career with a loss."
Even though Gordon may look back on the game with frustration—committing nine turnovers and being outscored by Mater Dei's Stanley Johnson will likely do that—the reality is that he has nothing to be angry about when it comes to his performance that night.
Gordon played his heart out—as usual—and did everything he could to beat Mater Dei on his own. Ultimately, he would fall short, but it would not be for a lack of trying.
Gordon finished with 22 points and 20 rebounds on 8-of-15 shooting for the night. By comparison, his teammates shot an abysmal 9-of-33.
Gordon was his usual athletic and dynamic self at both ends of the court and showed immense potential as a future college and NBA star.
"Aaron has nothing to be ashamed of," said Mitty coach Tim Kennedy.
"He left it all on the court."
While losing his final high school game might seem like a heartbreaker for Gordon, the reality is that long-term, it could do wonders for him. As crazy as it might sound right now, this loss has the potential to further strengthen his promising future.
Gordon is one of the hottest prospects in the country heading into the 2013-14 college basketball season. He has a raw potential that coaches will no doubt be very excited to bring in next year, with the athleticism and mobility to make him a great addition on any roster.
Throw in a very high level of conditioning, shooting skill and soft hands, and Gordon could well be one of the hottest players in college basketball next year.
The obvious line to follow that is how one final defeat isn't going to change anything at all—especially when he reels in 22 points and 20 rebounds in that final. But it's more than that for Gordon; this loss can do more for him than just keep him the same.
What this loss could do is give him the added mental toughness and edge over his college opponents and then fellow NBA Draft prospects.
There will be other players with the physical skills and athleticism that Gordon has; what he can bring to the table is an added mental strength and durability.
NBA Draft.net highlights that Gordon has already been called "California soft" by some observers, and that he'll need to be much tougher to play in the NBA.
This loss might just be the start of that process.
Which college do you think Aaron Gordon will end up picking in 2013?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre