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.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Michigan State v Duke
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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson

 

Hayes returning to Wisconsin for senior season

Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes celebrates with fans after an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 67-59. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Wisconsin has cemented itself as one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten for the 2016-17 season.

Forward Nigel Hayes, the Badgers’ leading scorer and assist man, is withdrawing his name from NBA Draft consideration to return to Madison for his senior season, he told the Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday evening.

Hayes declared for the draft last month, but did not hire an agent, taking advantage of new NCAA legislation that allowed him to attend the NBA Draft combine and workout for pro franchises. He was largely regarded as a fringe first-round prospect by draft observers.

His decision is a major boon for Greg Gard, who may have the Big Ten’s best team in his first full season at the helm after taking over for Bo Ryan in the middle of last season. Wisconsin had a major turnaround under Gard, which ultimately resulted in him moving from interim to full time. The Badgers were 7-5 when Ryan stepped down, but recovered by going 13-4 to end the season and make the Sweet 16. 

Now, the entirety of that team, headlined by Hayes, is returning for another year and almost assuredly will be a top-15 (or better) preseason pick. Michigan State will welcome in a dynamite recruiting class that features five-stars Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston, and Indiana should remain strong, but the Badgers, with some players having the experience of  playing in two Final Fours, could very well have the best roster on paper with its blend of talent and experience. Whichever team is pegged as the favorite, the top of the Big Ten is shaping up to be a fantastic race.

Illinois dismisses Kendrick Nunn

Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn (25) tries to go up for a basket against Indiana center Thomas Bryant (31) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at in Champaign, Ill., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Heather Coit)
(AP Photo/Heather Coit)
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Illinois announced on Tuesday that they have dismissed Kendrick Nunn from the basketball program.

Nunn was sentenced to community service after pleading guilty to a battery charge that stemmed from a domestic violence incident. He was alleged to have hit a woman in the head and pushed her to the ground before pouring water on her.

“We have made the decision to dismiss Kendrick Nunn from the men’s basketball team, effective immediately,” a statement put out by head coach John Groce and athletic director Josh Whitman read. “After extensive deliberation, we think it best for our program to reaffirm our core values of trust and respect, to send a strong message about what is acceptable behavior.”

Nunn averaged 15.5 points as a junior last season.

Delaware hires Martin Inglesby as head coach

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Joe Raymond, AP
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Delaware has finally hired a head coach, a little more than two months after Monte’ Ross was fired.

The man that earned the right of taking over a program with just four returning scholarship players is Martin Inglesby, a Notre Dame assistant that has been under Mike Brey’s tutelage for more than a decade. A source confirmed the news with NBCSports.com. Brey spent his first six seasons as a Division I head coach in Newark.

The reason that the search for a new basketball coach took so long is that the university was in the midst of looking for a new athletic director. Chrissi Rawak was hired as AD on May 13th, and one of her first orders of business was finding a replacement for Ross.

CBS Sports was the first to report Inglesby’s hiring.

Report: UCLA signs record apparel deal with Under Armour

(Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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The latest arms race in the collegiate ranks centers around apparel deals, and UCLA has reportedly signed the largest in the history of amateur athletics.

Under Armour will pay the university $280 million over the next 15 years, according to ESPN.com, in exchange for their athletes to work as unpaid models, turning Pauley Pavilion and the Rose Bowl into a runway for the athletic apparel company to hawk their wares.

Here are the details from ESPN:

At those numbers, the deal would be the largest in college football history. In January, Ohio State said its 15-year deal with Nike was worth $252 million. Texas signed a 15-year deal with Nike worth $250 million in October, and Michigan signed an 11-year deal, with a four-year option, that could be worth up to $173.8 million.

Landing UCLA only furthers Under Armour’s presence on the west coast. Their most famous client is Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.