|ESPN.com: Men's College Basketball||[Print without images]|
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Who is the best freshman in the country this season? USA Basketball has cast its vote for Aaron Gordon.
The Arizona standout was named USA Basketball's male athlete of the year, joining a who's who of previous winners that include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan and Michael Jordan.
|Arizona freshman forward Aaron Gordon has been named USA Basketball's male athlete of the year.|
Caveat in the best freshman balloting: Duke's Jabari Parker, Gordon's fellow first-year phenom, won the award two years ago.
"There are a couple of guys on that list that I really look up to, so to be affiliated with them is a tremendous honor," Gordon said. "LeBron James, that's almost surreal to be in the same category as him."
Gordon helped Team USA to a gold medal in the FIBA under-19 world championship, coming off the bench to average 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
He recorded two double-doubles during the nine-game tournament and, from a USA roster that counted Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Louisville's Montrezl Harrell and Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon among its members, was named tourney MVP.
"Aaron is a great player, and the thing I really give him and the rest of the players credit for is that every single one of those guys is a high-profile player and they all knew going in there was going to be some form of sacrifice that was going to have to take place for us to win," Florida coach Billy Donovan, who led the U.S. team, said in a statement. "No one was going to score 25 points; no one was going to play 35 minutes. It had to be a collective group effort, and their buy-in ability toward that was tremendous."
Gordon is the first Arizona player to win the award, which began in 1980 and is selected by USA Basketball's board of directors.
"It's an honor for the University of Arizona, our basketball program," coach Sean Miller said. "Make sure you look at the past recipients, and what I would say is I have no doubt that Aaron will one day be in their category and rightfully so."