The move also cools off the momentum gained by Arizona. Although UCLA is certainly "back", and doesn't really need to fear Arizona, getting a player the Wildcats wanted has to help. The Bruins got the early commitments from Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee, but in the past 10 days the Wildcats got commitments from two top-100 players and a third would have been staggering.
Not only do the Bruins get the recruiting spotlight back on them and away from the Wildcats, but they keep a much needed big man away from Arizona. Although the Bruins have been the top team in the Pac-10 for the past two seasons, and other schools have made a run at the top of the league, for the time being the Wildcats and the Bruins are still the kings of the Pac-10 and any victory over the other is a good one.
That being said, all is not lost for the Wildcats. I like Drew quite a bit, but he was not a slam dunk as the best big man the Cats were in on. After attending the two recruting events last weekend in Las Vegas I got to see the Cats' top three big man recruits and they aren't separated by much.
As much as I like Gordon, Terrence Jennings is right there. I left Las Vegas unsure of which player I liked better. I do believe that Gordon is the sure thing, but Jennings showed me a lot and if the Cats land him I believe they will be just fine.
Jennings has size, athleticism, skill and intensity. Talking to some folks in Vegas, one of the concerns with Gordon was his effort level. I am not sure myself. It is one thing to not play hard in an AAU event, but he did lead his team to the California state championship, so that says a lot.
I am also influenced by the fact that I have seen Jennings just once, but have seen Gordon play a number of times. Jennings' performance in Vegas was better than any I have seen from Gordon, but the level of competition that Jennings was going against was not great.
In the end, if the Cats land Jennings, the loss of Gordon really won't be felt.
Simpkins is another story. From a pure athletic standpoint Simpkins is as impressive as any of the bigs. He's a legit, big time prospect but too many people have concerns about him for me not to have at least a few worries. Teamed with Emmanuel Negedu, he seems to be talented enough to form a pretty nice front court, but after the past few season you have to be wary about players with question marks with their character.
Losing a player like Gordon is never a good thing, but the Wildcats have options. Getting a five-star player would have been great. Keeping their recruiting momentum going would have been great as well, but it is not as big of a loss as some of the others they Cats have suffered in recent seasons.
Gordon would have been nice, but it is now time to turn the page. Luckily for the Wildcats, the ensuing pages still contain some serious talent.