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Arizona basketball: Gabe York's leadership, confidence powers Wildcats' offense

In his 4th season with Arizona, Gabe York has emerged as a leader

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Just one of two 4-year scholarship players on the Arizona Wildcats roster, Gabe York has come a long way in his progression. To me, he's someone who easily could have left after his first, maybe even his second year here, in pursuit for more minutes and a larger role. Once averaging just 2.4 points a game in six minutes as a freshman, York is now second in minutes per game, averaging 14 points a game.

We've seen a lot of guys leave under Sean Miller, in particular many bigs.

From that 2012 class, we saw Grant Jerrett declare after his freshman season, averaging five points and four rebounds in 18 minutes a game. Last year, Craig Victor left prior to Pac-12 play, heading to LSU in pursuit of more minutes, and will be able to play for the Tigers after the fall semester. We saw Brandon Ashley declare early, and he's jobless in the NBA. Angelo Chol, from the 2011 class, is averaging three points and four rebounds a game at San Diego State.

What might hurt the most, is the list of York's offers coming out of high school, which included Louisville and UConn, both of which have won championships since his freshman season. Maybe that's not even a thought in his head, but that's something I think about all the time when I watch York play.

Last year, I felt that Gabe York was extremely under appreciated. He was the confident shooter, yet never chose to take an ill-advised shot. He'd been extremely smart about his shots and never reckless.

This year, his confidence and leadership have been on display through the first seven games. In two games, between Boise State and Northwestern State, he's been the team's leading scorer with 23 and 18 points, respectively. And he has scored no less than ten points in each and every game this year.

His three-point shooting is going to carry this offense at times, and we've seen York get hot from behind the arc before, but now it seems as if this could be the usual performance out of York. In five games, he's taken 44 three point shots, and knocked down 16 of those. The shooting percentage might be a tad low, but he's never lacked the confidence in his shooting and given up on offense, with the hopes of giving the offense the spark it needs.

We saw it vs. Santa Clara in the Wooden Legacy. York went 3-15 from the field, 1-10 from beyond the arc. Not once did I feel like Gabe York needed to take a seat for some ill-advised shots, and not once did I want him to stop shooting. Nobody was hitting their shots, and Arizona wasn't using their bigs down low. Gabe York knows when his team needs him to take a shot, and when he hits, it's a momentum changer.

He looks more comfortable on the court, and I think you can see it even more in post-game press conferences. He understands that he's a leader for this team and embraces it. In a year where Arizona didn't seem to have that go-to guy, Gabe York has taken a step forward and answered that call.

And now with the news of Kaleb Tarczewski's injury, where he will be out for 4-6 weeks, Gabe York will have to carry this team as the lone senior leader that knows this system inside and out.