Gordon honored by award

Aaron Gordon was named the USA Men's Basketball Athlete of the Year on Tuesday. Read on to see what he and Sean Miller say about the honor and more.

Arizona freshman Aaron Gordon was named the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year on Tuesday, as both Gordon and Sean Miller shared their joy in the honor.

"It's an honor and really a privilege for me to have a player that I coach and that we have in our program like Aaron Gordon, who would receive an award like this," Miller said. "He earned the award through his performance this past summer on the under-19 team, which he, along with his teammates, won the gold medal with Billy Donovan as the coach."

Gordon has actually known about the award for a bit and says that he is flattered to be on a list that includes players like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and others.

"I found out a couple weeks ago," he said. "My mom texted me with a bunch of exclamation points and was really happy, showing me the different people that have received the award. It really is an honor. There are a couple guys on the list that I really look up to and admire their basketball talents, so to be affiliated with them on a list like this and to receive an award like this is really an honor."

Donovan actually brought Gordon off the bench and the heralded freshman says that he did not have any issue with doing so.

"There was a bunch of older guys on the team," Gordon said. "Me coming from high school, never being a part of a college program, I didn't quite get the defenses as quickly as some of the older guys did. I think Billy just wanted to go with a more experienced starting lineup to get us going and then I would be a spark off the bench."

With his team's dominance in the tournament, it is not a surprise that Gordon may have learned more from practices.

"You get a lot out of practices," he said. "I jumped at the chance to play because you have two a days. Eat, sleep, and play basketball. That's what I love to do. That's really beneficial and then just being in a foreign environment and trying to expand your comfort zone with playing in a European league. It is kind of a different league, but it is still basketball, so it is interesting how you have to adjust."

Miller says that if you were to compare the qualities that Donovan raved about to what Miller sees in Gordon, they would be very similar.

"One of the things I tried to do before Aaron ever got here is I talked a lot to Billy Donovan about Aaron because he had such a great run and his team had great success, Aaron had great success," Miller said. "It is just interesting because a lot of the things I got from Billy in that conversation, it would almost be like I could press the tape recorder right now and almost say the same things he said to me.

"Those things were that Aaron Gordon is a winner, he is a fantastic teammate, and when you describe his game you don't necessarily put your finger on one thing, but you learn to appreciate the whole. That is how he defends, how he runs the floor, the fact that he can pass, rebound. The way he scores is sometimes unique, but by the same token, it really blends well with other good players."

Awards such as these tend to increase the pressure surrounding a player, but Gordon does not seem to buy into that.

"Everybody is going to have expectations, but I don't live for people's opinions," Gordon said. "It's kind of a daily thing where the pressure goes up and down, but I try to relax myself by saying all we need to do is win. That is what I came in saying and that is what I am going to stick to. If you win, and I think I know how to win with a really good team like this, the pressure is non-existent."


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