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.