Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Aaron Gordon: Who do you think you are?
By By Mike Grimala
No. 3 junior Aaron Gordon is most frequently compared to Clippers power forward Blake Griffin.
This summer, ESPNHS will sit down with some of the nation's elite players to break down their game, talk about the inevitable comparisons to college and pro players and get their take on who they pattern their game after.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
We compare the nation's elite high school ballers to their college or pro double. Read the archives.
Player: Aaron Gordon School: Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.)
Position: Small forward/power forward
ESPN 60: No. 3
Who is Aaron Gordon?
With a devastating inside-out game and elite athleticism, Gordon has been one of the top frontcourt prospects in the country for the past few years. He's led Archbishop Mitty to back-to-back state championships, posting a line of 33 points and 20 rebounds in the most recent title game win. For the 2011-12 season, Gordon averaged 22.9 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, earning him Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball honors. He should be on the short list for Gatorade National Player of the Year next season.
According to ESPN RecruitingNation, Gordon uses his length, athleticism and high-energy motor to dominate the paint. He does major damage on tip-ins and putbacks, relentlessly attacking the ball off the rim. He's also improving his perimeter skills, taking bigger defenders outside and driving past them with a tight handle and quick first step. Gordon is one of the top finishers in the country, easily getting above the rim and slamming the ball with authority. He's the type of recruit who can change a college program as a freshman, which is why schools like Kentucky and Arizona are going after him hard.
Most frequent comparison: Blake Griffin
ESPNHS comparison: Derrick Williams
The most obvious similarity between Gordon and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams is that they can both fly. At Arizona, Williams put himself on the map by viciously dunking on Duke repeatedly in the 2011 NCAA tournament, and Gordon has that type of ability. And just as the 6-foot-8 Williams is carving out a role as a swing forward in the NBA, Gordon also falls somewhere between being a classic 3 or 4. Williams shot 51 percent from 3-point range in college, so Gordon is going to have to keep working on his stroke in order to make the transition to the perimeter. He's already got good ball-handling ability and solid mechanics on his jumper.
Gordon's comparison: Scottie Pippen
Gordon doesn't necessarily agree with the comparison he hears most often -- Blake Griffin. "I think that's people's way of saying that I'm one-dimensional, that all I can do is dunk," says Gordon. "I think I have more perimeter skills than that."
In fact, Gordon sees himself resembling one of the most skilled small forwards of all time in former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen. At 6-foot-8, 228 pounds, Pippen wasn't much bigger than Gordon is now. He won six NBA championships and earned a reputation as one of the most well-rounded stars in NBA history, averaging 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.0 steals for his career. He often served as a primary ball-handler and distributor, and he was selected to the NBA's All-Defensive first team eight times.
Gordon believes he can develop that type of skill set.
"I'm definitely more of a Pippen," he says. "I think eventually I'm going to be most effective facing the basket and working out near the 3-point line. I could even develop more explosiveness and play as a really big 2."