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Arizona basketball: Aaron Gordon dunks, but he wants to be a point forward

Aaron Gordon is a finalist to play on USA Basketball's U19 national squad, but he insists he's not just about dunking.


The above is a video clip from a recent Team USA practice. It's what you see of Aaron Gordon now.

Most people see the Arizona Wildcats incoming forward as being all that and only that, but Gordon wants more. In an interview with Sporting News, Gordon tells Michael DeCourcy that the Blake Griffin comparisons are more limiting than accurate. It's to-be-determined if Gordon's insistance that he's more than an insanely athletic power forward is true.

It's not unclear in how confident and driven he is, however.

When asked what he thinks of the common comparisons of his game to that of NBA star Blake Griffin-both are big, strong and phenomenally athletic-Gordon answers, "I think, I can play point guard and he can't. "He's an incredible player; he's the No. 1 pick," Gordon said. "I can't be too mad if people are comparing me to a No. 1 pick. But I can play point guard."

Those are big words. Gordon said that he'll do whatever it takes to "thrive" at Arizona and fit with the depth of wings or big men. Whatever he is, he thinks he'll figure it out.

Is it cocky? Maybe. But it's also refreshing to hear a player commit to specific goals. This isn't the common case of a player wanting to improve in all areas. That's code for a lack of direction or even a smokescreen for laziness. Gordon doesn't spew generalizations.

"I can stand here and hit open shots all day long. What I need to do is figure out a way to get my shot in the shooting pocket quicker and smoother in the flow of the game. Once I get that, then I think I'm there."

Direction is good to have. And if Gordon moves to Tucson with Miller wanting to truly help him with those goals, all the better.

Miller told The Sports News that Gordon isn't just making this stuff up.

If Gordon makes the USA U19 squad, there's even more experience he'll bring to Tucson while playing with talents already NBA-ready such as point guard Marcus Smart. The Oklahoma State guard would've likely been a top-5 pick but pulled himself out of the draft, to most experts' surprise. Also on the list of 16 players fighting for 12 tickets to Prague are fellow Pac-12 signee Nigel Williams-Goss, who will attend Washington, Arizona recruiting target Justise Winslow and Oregon Ducks guard Damyean Dotson.

So Gordon will make a case for himself as not only a physical presence but a ballhandling big.

But in the meantime, he'll continue to embarrass guys with physics-defying dunks.

Scouting Ashley and Hollis-Jefferson

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley couldn't make the initial cut for the national team.

In Draft Express' breakdown of the camp, Jonathan Givony writes that Hollis-Jefferson excelled as a defender who had the ability to stay in front of opposing point guards and hold his own against big men in the post. He struggled offensively, however. The Wildcats small forward was hampered by his inability to stretch the court and also couldn't score off the dribble.

Givony was especially critical of Ashley, whose body is undeveloped in relation to where he was a few years ago. Ashley often floated around the perimeter and without a skillset of a small forward was rendered a ghost because of it. But the biggest issue was Ashley's motor, which apparently ended up in him getting beaten on the boards.