Aaron Gordon: Latest Buzz Surrounding Arizona Star's 2014 NBA Draft Decision

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2014

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 27:  Aaron Gordon #11 of the Arizona Wildcats smiles in the second half while taking on the San Diego State Aztecs during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Honda Center on March 27, 2014 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Arizona forward Aaron Gordon is heading to the NBA. Or maybe not. What we do know, though, is the Wildcats star is going to be discussing his future with his family in the coming days.   

Updates from Tuesday, April 15

Aaron Gordon has officially made his decision on where he'll play next year. The Pac-12 Network Twitter account has the news:

Updates from Monday, April 14

While Aaron Gordon hasn't officially made a statement, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that the freshman plans on making his decision this week: "University of Arizona freshman forward Aaron Gordon will announce this week he's entering the 2014 NBA draft, source told Yahoo Sports."

Original Text

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported Gordon was leaning heavily toward entering his name in the draft, right as the final buzzer was sounding on Arizona's 64-63 overtime loss to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight:

For his part, Gordon said he has not made a firm decision, per former Wildcats beat writer Anthony Gimino. As with all prospects, Gordon indicated he will talk with his family before making an official announcement. The deadline for prospects to declare for the 2014 NBA draft is April 27. 

If Saturday night was Gordon's last game as a college athlete, it certainly could have gone better. The freshman forward scored only eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, and though he added 18 rebounds, Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski's inability to curtail Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky played a large part in the loss. Kaminski scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, as nothing worked for Arizona defensively.

Late in the second half and overtime, coach Sean Miller subbed out Tarczewski and had his Wildcats switch, only for Kaminski to keep knocking down shots. He backed down Gordon in the paint for one-handed hook shots and stretched beyond the three-point arc, as he was one of just two Wisconsin players who shot over 50 percent. 

“Frank Kaminsky is the reason Wisconsin is in the Final Four,” Miller told reporters. “Obviously, it was almost as if he had a big night and we tried to shut everybody else down. That’s not really what we wanted to do. But we could not overcome the 28 points he gave us.”

Still, it's unlikely one down game did much to alter Gordon's stock. Through the first two games of the NCAA tournament, he looked every bit like a raw but talented player starting to put his skill set together. Gordon made 15 of his 19 shots in wins over Gonzaga and San Diego State, even flashing out range beyond the three-point line.

If Gordon finds consistency with his shot—or any part of his offensive game, for that matter—he may find himself rocketing up draft boards. ESPN's Chad Ford (subscription required) currently has him as the sixth-best prospect in the 2014 class, but there is certainly some wiggle room within that assessment. DraftExpress' rankings have Gordon eighth, with Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and Indiana's Noah Vonleh causing the differential.

With the possibility lingering that the NBA could up its age limit by a year, someone like Gordon could arguably benefit by staying an extra season. While it's tough to pass up top-10 money, Gordon has a legitimate shot at being the No. 1 pick in 2015. Even if the NBA and NBAPA cannot come to an agreement on an increased age limit, the 2015 draft class is not seen as being nearly as strong as this year's.

Either way, it's tough to fault Gordon for looking at the landscape and wanting to get out now. The flaws in his game, most of which are offense and polish related, are seen as traits that will develop over time. Coming back to school and not showing vast improvement as a shooter and post player could, in the long run, scare teams off.

On the plus side, there is plenty of already-developed traits for teams to latch onto. Gordon is an NBA athlete in every sense of the word, garnering Blake Griffin comparisons from the moment he arrived at Arizona. It's obviously unfair to conflate Gordon and one of the 10 best players in the NBA, and Griffin was a better offensive player in college.

That said, Gordon has the upper hand on defense. As ESPN's Jeff Goodman pointed out Saturday night, Gordon is already advanced as a defender and able to guard multiple positions:

In the end, chances are Gordon is coming out. The money, even on the NBA's rookie scale, is too good not to. And by entering his name into the draft now, he's one year closer to receiving a second NBA contract—usually well into the eight figures if everything works out.

Now just comes the waiting game between the family discussion and official announcement.


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