Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon: ‘Whatever Coach Miller wants me to play, I’ll play it.’

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It may only be the middle of June, but I can already freely admit that I spend quite a bit of time every day looking forward to the 2013-2014 college hoops season.

The strength of the best rivalries in the country, all the talent that returned to school, all the talent in the 2013 recruiting class, Andrew Wiggins, the new ACC. I could go on and on and on.

But the more I think about it, one of the most intriguing story lines for next season will be Aaron Gordon and the position that he plays in what I’m assuming will be his one and only year on a college campus. I’ve written plenty of words on this topic already, specifically that Gordon would be a much better fit for the Wildcats if he’s playing the four instead of the three, but that his long-term outlook as a prospect is probably on the perimeter.

Here’s the concern I have: Gordon told a reporter in Arizona that his plan was to play on the wing full-time back in late May. Maybe the quote was taken out of context, or maybe Gordon was just talking about what the ideal would be for him, but it set off some red flags. That’s why the most important part of Mike DeCourcy’s story on Gordon from the U-19 trials over the weekend is this line here:

But, Gordon said, “As for next year, I’m just looking to win a national title. So whatever Coach Miller wants me to play, I’ll play it.” And then Gordon issued a genuine warning: “And I’ll thrive at it.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Gordon has the kind of physical gifts that will allow him to do just about whatever he wants to do on a basketball court as long as he puts in the work to get there. In other words, he’s going to be as good of a basketball player as he wants to be. He’s that gifted physically. There’s no reason that, in five years time, he can’t be Paul George or Danny Granger.

But at the collegiate level, Gordon’s best position is at the four. It’s not because he’s a stereotypical power forward, the kind of bruising screener that will remind folks of Charles Oakley.

It’s because he does have those perimeter skills.

He’s athletic enough that he can be a terrific shotblocker and rebounder on the defensive end, but think about the nightmares that opposing coaches are going to have as they try to figure out how their slow-footed, lumbering power forwards will matchup with a guy with Gordon’s range and perimeter ability.

All Gordon has to do is look at a couple of other players in similar situations out west. Mike Moser went from a potential first round pick to an afterthought when he tried to transition to the perimeter. Jamaal Franklin had a much better sophomore year than he did a junior year, and part of that was because he was switched to playing the three full-time.

These days, the ideal collegiate ‘power forward’ can rebound and defend in the paint while having the ability to score and penetrate on the perimeter.

Gordon is the prototype.

I’m just not sure that I see the sense in taking away that advantage.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.