Arizona Basketball Recruiting: Analyzing 'Cats Chances to Land Aaron Gordon
At the McDonald's All-American media day on April 2, Aaron Gordon will finally pick where he plays basketball next season from his final four: Kentucky, Oregon, Washington and Arizona.
To evaluate where Gordon is going to land, understanding the priorities of an elite level recruit is necessary.
The biggest and most important factor is the program's ability to get a player NBA ready. No other consideration comes anywhere near as importance as that.
Second is playing time. Most of the players of Gordon's caliber are thinking "one-and-done." With this in mind, none of them want to ride the pine. Because Gordon is so good, this probably won't play a role anywhere but one school.
The rest of the factors, while important, depend on the individual recruit. Chances of winning a title, style of play, facilities, proximity to home and exposure all play a part in a player choosing a school.
Keeping these factors in mind, this article examines each of Gordon's final four schools.
When ranking the schools, I gave them all a percentage so the four percents total to 100 percent. The higher the percent, the higher the likelihood of Gordon picking that school.
Now you're caught up.
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Oregon got a lot of talk and publicity in its two wins in the NCAA tournament. The Ducks were the best team in the Pac-12 and are definitely a program on the rise. The quality season in 2012-13 weighs heavily in Oregon's favor.
But as far as Gordon's freshman season goes, the Ducks won't be as good as they were this season. They lose four of their top five scorers and the top four rebounders. While arguably a top-10 team this season, next year they will not be anywhere near as good.
While it is close to Gordon's family on the west coast and he will get all the playing time he wants, Oregon doesn't have enough to draw Gordon away from the real contenders.
Oregon's chance: 5 percent
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Kentucky has always been on Gordon's short list.
And why wouldn't it be?
Gordon's ultimate goal is to be an NBA player, and the Wildcats have been an NBA factory since Calipari's arrival. Add the national title they won last season and the fact that they look to be incredible in 2013-14, and Kentucky is hard to turn down.
But with Gordon, there are several factors pushing hard against them.
First is that Gordon seems to be very close to his family and Kentucky is 2422 miles from home (according to Google). Getting to games would be expensive and difficult for anyone living on the West Coast.
Next, and more importantly, Kentucky has arguably the greatest recruiting class in the history of planet earth. The Wildcats have four of the top seven, and five of the top 11 players in nation coming to play. And this doesn't include Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 player in the country, who Calipari is working hard to get.
Of those players, Julius Randle plays the same position, James Young is a small forward and Dakari Johnson is a center. Plus, Wiggins also plays in the front court.
While Gordon is talented enough to get plenty of time in this lineup, there is no doubt he would get more time at any of the other schools.
Ultimately, this factor, along with the distance, prevent Kentucky from getting another star to place in its already bright constellation.
Kentucky's chance: 15 percent
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On paper, Washington look like the best fit for Gordon.
The Huskies have show they can produce NBA talent with six first-round picks in the last several years. Gordon will be the star on the team and will start and finish every game.
The team will also have talent around him.
While likely losing C.J. Wilcox, five-star point guard Nigel Williams-Goss is coming. He will be getting Gordon the ball and pushing the tempo. Also returning will be Andrew Andrews, Shawn Kemp Jr. and Desmond Simmons.
The Huskies will be good with Gordon.
The fast style of play fits Gordon's athleticism and will let his skill set shine. He will have the chance to play a lot of different positions which is important for a guy who patterns his game off the versatility of Scottie Pippen.
Additionally, Gordon's father grew up in the same neighborhood as Washington coach Lorenzo Romar and the two remain close. They are so close that Gordon's father called Romar a guardian angel to his kids. And also in the family realm, Washington is closer than both Arizona and Kentucky.
The downside for Washington is that while the team is going to compete on the Pac-12 level, they won't be contending for a national title like Arizona and Kentucky. They have decent pieces around Gordon but nothing that compares to the nations top-level teams.
And Washington doesn't have the prestige or the exposure of the Wildcats.
However, when considering all the positives and negatives, and looking at the total package that each school brings, Washington is the clear favorite.
Washington's chance: 50 percent
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In almost every way, Arizona seems like the natural fit for Aaron Gordon.
It turns out NBA level players and has for decades. More precisely, Sean Miller can say that under his tenure he took a relatively unknown power forward by the name of Derrick Williams and made him the second pick in the draft.
One huge advantage Arizona has over Washington is that it will be one of the two or three favorites to win the title if Gordon goes to Tucson.
Already one of the most talented teams this season,Arizona will get better with a true point guard in T.J. McConnell and the ultra versatile wing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
With Gordon in the mix, Arizona becomes a truly great team.
Arizona is a good fit in other ways as well.
It is on the West Coast so the school is close to home.
They play an up-tempo style of offense and he will have opportunities to play several different positions.
And because Arizona will be so good, they will also have more exposure and will be highlighted on ESPN nearly every night as all the top teams are.
However, the biggest advantage over Washington is also the biggest disadvantage. Likely the big front court players will be coming back. While none of them are as good as Gordon, they will get their minutes.
Gordon will not be as big of a fish in Tucson as he will be in Seattle.
In the end, Gordon will choose to stay closer to his family by going to Washington. Arizona, while attractive on many different levels, is Gordon's second choice.
While the suspense has continued for months without end, we will all find out Tuesday night where Gordon will choose to take his basketball talents for the 2013-14 season.
Arizona's chance: 30 percent