Posted: 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, 2013
By Kevin Cacabelos
Most Pac-12 teams are finished recruiting their class of 2013, however a few teams are still trying to fill one or two spots with the remaining uncommitted players left in the country. One of these uncommitted players is Aaron Gordon, a consensus five-star power forward recruit from San Jose, CA.
Pac-12 schools Arizona, Oregon, Washington along with the SEC's Kentucky are currently in Gordon's list of final four schools. He has made official visits to all four schools.
Gordon and his Archbishop Mitty teammates will begin their quest for a 2013 CIF State open division championship this Friday. Gordon will make his decision sometime after his season ends sometime in these next few weeks until the final signing deadline on May 15th.
For those that have not seen Gordon play, he is one of the most explosive players at the high school level, drawing inevitable comparisons to Blake Griffin. His athleticism is his best quality, allowing him to dunk routinely and block shots on a consistent basis on the defensive end. Also, despite being 6-8, Gordon can put the ball on the ground and attack the basket from the perimeter.
No one has any idea where Gordon is leaning, and it is quite possible Gordon himself has no favorite in mind right now.
Most experts think Kentucky is not a valid option for Gordon because of their current depth at the power forward position. Five-star power forward recruit Marcus Lee and three-star forward recruit Derek Willis have both already signed their LOIs to Kentucky. The Wildcats will also likely return current sophomore Kyle Wiltjer at the power forward position. Assuming at least three Wildcats bolt for the draft (Nerlens Noel, Alex Polythress, Archie Goodwin,Willie Cauley-Stein), Kentucky will have around eight scholarships to give out.
Currently the Wildcats five LOIs signed and one verbal commitment from Dakari Johnson, putting the Wildcats at exactly 11 spots if four players declare for the NBA draft. Amazingly, the Wildcats are reportedly still involved in the recruitments of two players ranked ahead of Gordon; small forward Andrew Wiggins and power forward Julius Randle. Right now, Gordon's potential contribution to Kentucky is up in the air. If Randle chooses the Wildcats and if either Polythress or Cauley-Stein decided to stay, Gordon probably will look to stay on the west coast.
Let's move on to the three Pac-12 schools.
Arizona is a winning program and as Gordon states in this video interview, Miller has a reputation of improving the jump shots of his players. Like Kentucky, the Arizona has a log jam at the power forward position. Sophomore Angelo Chol and freshmen Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley will all return to the team next season. While Gordon will certainly see playing time as a freshman, the presence of three established talents at Arizona naturally decreases the amount of his playing time.
Oregon is an interesting case because the Ducks snuck back into Gordon's list last month after he had previously trimmed it to Arizona, Washington and Kentucky last November. How did Oregon get back onto his list? The Ducks are winning with a 23-6 record and a likely at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. Oregon Head Coach Dana Altman made an in-home visit with Gordon in February.
The Ducks currently have two power forwards signed (Jordan Bell and Cristiano Felicio) along with current freshmen Arik Armstead and Ben Carter on the roster. Unlike Arizona, Gordon would likely immediately start and have significant playing time as a Duck.
As for Washington, the Huskies have long been regarded as the favorite to land Gordon. The Huskies will have four power forward types next season, but none of them have close to the amount of talent that Aaron Gordon has. If it counts for anything, Huskies Head Coach Lorenzo Romar attended high school with Ed Gordon, Aaron's father. However, unlike Oregon and Arizona, the Huskies have come up short in the win column this past season. Winning is clearly a factor in Gordon's decision-making process as made evident in Oregon's resurfacing as a possible destination.
With all this said, where will Gordon end up? While Gordon claims he doesn't care too much about current depth on a potential school's roster, Arizona and Kentucky will make it more difficult for Gordon to have a big impact right away. If he's looking to "stand out" he may be better off at Oregon and Washington, the two schools who I think his decision will come down to.
For Gordon, he'll have to weigh what he wants more: making an immediate impact or winning right away. These two things are not exclusive, but at Oregon he'd be joining a situation where the team would be more equipped to win immediately.
At Washington, he'd be the best player on the team from day one. As a likely one-and-done player, Washington and Coach Romar have also proven to be a program that can get guys into the NBA (see: Spencer Hawes, Jon Brockman, Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten, etc.). If it's between Washington and Oregon, the Huskies would probably be the favorite just because they have always been on Gordon's list as opposed to Oregon coming on late.