In addition to Stamp’s look at Aaron Gordon’s commitment and Schmidt’s letter to Larry Scott about Ed Rush, lots of people are talking about the two big news stories to hit Arizona Wildcats basketball over the past 48 hours. This is a look at what others are saying about Arizona:
Aaron Gordon’s Commitment to Arizona
A 6-foot-8 power forward by trade, Gordon (Archbishop Mitty HS) is fluid with the ball on the perimeter and will have the opportunity to slide into the small forward slot in lieu of departing senior Solomon Hill. Gordon’s blend of explosiveness, versatility and sheer athleticism will present trying mismatches for Pac-12 coaches to manage. He is too big and powerful for opposing wings, too athletic and perimeter-savvy for opposing bigs.
Northern California has produced some superstar prep players in both the past (Leon Powe, Drew Gooden and Jason Kidd, among others) and this year (Jabari Bird and Marcus Lee), but the hype surrounding Gordon is palpable. Described as “explosive” and “the West’s best athlete” by Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi, Gordon was courted by every major program in the nation, but eventually narrowed his decision to Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington.
Arizona, after losing Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom, could use a combination of Gordon, Hollis-Jefferson and Ashley at small forward. The long-term plan has been for Ashley to transition to the 3, and he talked after the Sweet 16 loss to Ohio State about working on his perimeter skills this summer in advance seeing some time at small forward.
Arizona certainly has some quality pieces in place for next season, and the addition of a talent like Gordon will go a long way toward a championship. In a one-and-done college basketball culture, finding that kind of continuity is rare, especially for a team with so much potential.
Gordon would have made the Huskies instant favorites for the Pac-12 title and put them in many pre-season top 25s. Without him, they are most likely a middle of the road, bubble team. Despite the losses of Aziz N’Diaye, Scott Suggs and Abdul Gaddy, the team will be improved.
Ed Rush and Sean Miller
First, Jody Ohler did a pretty good interview with Jay Bilas on today’s show.
Most fans are going to agree with Jeff that Rush should be fired and I can see where they are coming from. But from an official’s standpoint (I’m a high school basketball official) it’s clear to me that this was meant differently. As I wrote in my endorsement article Rush was brought in to “cut the fat” so to speak. Frankly, the conference needs better officiating and it only starts with replacing your weakest officials, regardless of their “rank” or “tenure”. If I had to guess, the official who made the comments against Ed Rush is a veteran official who doesn’t like change.
When there is even a perception of taint in the administration of sport, its entire authenticity is brought into question. That’s why the NBA had to root out Tim Donaghy (and claim that he was a lone wolf, as dubious as that may be). That’s why the massive match-fixing investigation across players and officials in soccer is threatening that sport in a number of countries. And that’s why Ed Rush should lose his job as supervisor of the Pac-12′s referees.
Officials who work any sporting event have no quality more essential than integrity, and the games they work are the same. The major professional leagues and the NCAA have worked relentlessly to keep legalized gambling from spreading beyond the Nevada borders to other states on the stance that it would have the potential to compromise the legitimacy of those events.
Mr. Rush may indeed have intended to simply make an off-hand innocuous jab at Sean Miller. But because the story has become public, and because of the sports environment we live in today which has been shaped in recent years by dishonesty in sports including a prominent cheating scandal in the NBA, the last thing the newly formed Pac-12 needs is a Tim Donaghy-sized black eye.
My first thought: Good thing it involves a team whose fans don’t care about basketball.