Arizona will be most dangerous with Gordon on wing


Aaron Gordon is letting it be known he wants to play small forward on a full-time basis in 2013-14 (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

Freshman sensation Aaron Gordon wants to play on the wing on a full-time basis in the 2013-14 season, which is a comment that will not fall on deaf ears in the coaches offices at McKale Center.

“As of right now I plan on playing on the wing full time,” Gordon told

Although the five-star recruit does not call the shots, Arizona coach Sean Miller and his staff must put together a plan to make the 6-foot-8-inch, 205-pound forward happy by having him face the basket when the Wildcats have the ball next season. Gordon can assume the role Derrick Williams played in Arizona’s Elite Eight season in 2011 — an interior player in a small forward’s body who can extend the defense to the perimeter because of his versatility.

Williams actually played most of his minutes at the post with Jamelle Horne at the power forward spot in 2010-11.

Gordon admitted to Jason Scheer of recently that he must “obviously be some times where I’ve got to go down in the post and go to work” but he would rather force the action from the perimeter.

“The plan is for me to play on the perimeter, which makes sense when you have players like Brandon (Ashley) and Kaleb (Tarczewski) in the low post,” Gordon told Scheer. “A lot of my training has been done with that in mind. I’ve always been able to dribble pretty well, so I’ve continued to work on that along with becoming a more consistent shooter.”

Rob Dauster of wrote Tuesday that Arizona will be better off with Gordon primarily playing the power forward position.

Dauster reasons that if Gordon plays mostly on the wing, it will adversely affect other perimeter players and not benefit Arizona’s lack of inside depth now that Grant Jerrett is chasing his NBA dream and Angelo Chol has transferred to San Diego State.

Arizona has another McDonald’s All-American — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — who has aspirations of playing on the wing with the size (6-7, 200) more conducive for that position.

Derrick Williams’ versatility allows him to play on the perimeter while mixing it up with power forwards such as Blake Griffin, a player UA recruit Aaron Gordon is compared to with their skills (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

My opinion: Arizona is better suited with Gordon playing the same role as Williams, which means be the focal point of Arizona’s execution starting on the perimeter. Gordon will draw defenses by roaming the perimeter and get to the free-throw line often by aggressively driving to the lane.

Arizona is still in good shape on the frontcourt with with Tarzcewski and JC transfer Matt Korcheck at the post and Ashley developing into one of the better power forwards in the Pac-12. Gordon can rotate into the power-forward spot if Ashley is in foul trouble or needs rest. Korcheck’s role will be spelling Tarczewski and Ashley and taking fouls away from them.

If Miller wants to go big, he can play a lineup that can include Tarzcewski, Ashley, Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson. When he wants more athleticism and speed, he can go with Ashley, Gordon, Hollis-Jefferson and Nick Johnson.

T.J. McConnell and Jordin Mayes will give the UA one of the more experienced point-guard rotations in the Pac-12, although next season will be McConnell’s first for Arizona after two standout years with Duquesne and Mayes has mostly been a reserve.

For Arizona to be at its best in 2013-14 all the players — Gordon included — must agree to some give and take with their roles.

Gordon knows he can play most of his minutes on the wing, but he will also be valuable as a power forward inside. That kind of versatility enabled Williams to be the seventh pick overall in the 2011 NBA draft.

The argument of that statement is that Williams’ early struggles in the NBA were related to him playing at the post and power forward at Arizona. He is more of a small forward in the NBA but did not refine those skills at Arizona because Miller needed him on the frontcourt because of a lack depth.

The difference in Gordon’s case is that Arizona has more capable players to play with at the post and power forward spots than Williams did in 2010-11. Alex Jacobsen and Kyryl Natyazhko did not have a significant role at the center position.

The 2013-14 season will be a trade of Tarczewski, Ashley and Korcheck in place of Jacobsen, Natyazhko and Horne from Williams’ last season.

Horne also extended his game to the perimeter. Williams and Horne took Arizona’s last shots from three-point range against UConn in the Wildcats’ loss in the Elite Eight.

Bottom line: I understand the argument that Gordon must play at power forward to provide more minutes for Hollis-Jefferson and others on the perimeter, but I don’t agree with it. Arizona will be most dangerous when Gordon is allowed the freedom to face the basket starting from the perimeter. He is capable of making aggressive plays and creating scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.

Javier Morales, a former Arizona Press Club award winner, is the editor, publisher and writer for He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports and Make sure to follow Morales’ 100 Days Until Kickoff 2013 countdown series at