Arizona’s high-profile Class of 2013 recruit Aaron Gordon distinguished himself further in the Team USA’s gold-medal run in the U-19 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Americans, behind six points and six rebounds from Gordon in 15 minutes, defeated Serbia 82-68 for the gold medal Sunday.
Gordon, a versatile forward prospect from San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty, already established himself as one of the nation’s elite with his MVP selection of the 2013 McDonald’s All-American Game after finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes.
He was chosen the MVP of the U-19 World Championships after leading Team USA with 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds a game in its 8-0 run to the gold.
“I was surprised when I was named all-tournament and once I got all-tournament I thought, ‘Hey maybe I can get MVP too, here’ and then they said my name, I really didn’t even hear them say my name at first I had to ask my teammates. But I’m very honored,” Gordon is quoted as saying by the Team USA Web site.
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Interesting to note: Florida coach Billy Donovan, the Team USA coach, played Gordon almost exclusively at the power forward position.
Gordon attempted only three three-pointers (all misses) in the eight games. He is the subject of discussion concerning which position he will play at Arizona — power forward or small forward.
“A lot of guys are really talented and athletic,” Donovan told the USA Today on Thursday. “What makes him so different is his effort, his energy. … There are things he’s got to get better on – he doesn’t necessarily have this great scoring skill, in terms of a low-post game yet or he’s not this great 3-point shooter.
“I think he’s got such an incredible ceiling because the things I’m talking about, he can get better at those things. What you can’t teach, and I think is so important, is an incredible motor. He really has an incredible motor.”
Donovan compared Gordon’s energy and passion to one of his former standouts at Florida.
“I don’t mean to say he’s the same kind of player, but in terms of coaching him, he reminds me in a lot of ways of Joakim Noah (a two-time NCAA champion and 2007 lottery pick),” Donovan told USA Today. “He’s got that energy and that kind of passion.”
Gordon becomes the second Arizona player to lead the U-19 Team USA squad in scoring. Michael Wright led Team USA with 11.5 points a game in 1999.
He is only the fourth player to lead Team USA in scoring and rebounding average in the U-19 World Championships. The others are Paul Davis in 2003 (17.7 points and 8.7 rebounds), Lionel Simmons in 1987 (15.0 points and 7.0 rebounds) and Kenny Walker in 1999 (19.9 points and 11.0 rebounds).
Gordon will likely come to Tucson when he returns to the U.S. Arizona’s second summer session starts Monday (July 8).
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.