The height of Arizona basketball has seen many things. Never before have the Arizona Wildcats had a McDonald's All-American outright MVP.
On Wednesday, recently-committed Wildcat Aaron Gordon earned the third MVP award by a UA commit by scoring 24 points, grabbing eight rebounds and shooting 10-of-17 from the floor.
Like most All-Star contests, there's only so much to be said about the performance against lackluster defense. But at the same time, Gordon's points and rebounds came mostly because he had the best motor in what truly is a pointless game. A day after being the last player on the court, Gordon ran the floor, made the hustle plays and went hard in leading the West to a 110-99 victory.
He joined Chase Budinger and Khalid Reeves as past Arizona players to win MVPs, although theirs were of the shared variety.
Sure, his dunks were impressive. That was already known. What wasn't was his overall skillset. Most impressively for what little live action I've seen of Gordon's game was his playmaking ability.
Though many labeled him as a power forward, the thought was Arizona earned his verbal commitment because he saw himself learning to play the small forward position. Surprisingly, he looked more than capable of doing so before setting foot in Tucson, often taking a rebound up the court himself and often making the right pass. Though he was labeled as a smart player and high-post passer, it was his off-the-dribble decisions that looked unforced and effortless on Wednesday.
His handle was tighter than expected, and although he neared the double-digit mark in dunks on 10 total makes -- so his shooting still might be a work in process -- it's not as if departing senior Solomon Hill had any problem starting immediately with the same deficiencies when he was a freshman.
Gordon added two steals and two assists to his total.
Meanwhile, future Arizona teammate Rondae Jefferson showed he intangibles that should make an immediate impact in Tucson. The lanky small forward could use some added weight, but he arguably was along with Gordon as the hardest-working player on his team. Jefferson helped force a 10-second violation in the second half (when's the last time you've seen that happen in an All-Star game setting?).
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson knows who he is. Not a polished offensive player so he comes in and starts hawking the ball. Culture guy for Zona!— Dave Telep (@DaveTelep) April 4, 2013
Jefferson even contested a Gordon cocked-back dunk that didn't get flushed through the cup. But Jefferson's true potential will come out this summer at the Nike Hoops Summit. He was added to Team USA specifically to help defend Canadian wing Andrew Wiggins, the class' No. 1 ranked player who scored 19 points in the East's losing effort on Wednesday.