What if we said that UA has signed a better player than the Suns will draft?
No joke. And that’s no slam on the Suns. Instead, it illustrates that there’s no slam dunk in this year’s NBA Draft.
To be kind, the upcoming draft class is underwhelming. In fact, I asked new Suns GM Ryan McDonough what he says when people say it’s a weak crop overall?
“I understand why people say that,” McDonough nodded. “But, for us, we only have three picks. So, we don’t need there to be 60 good players in this draft. We just need there to be three (good players) at the slots we’re picking.”
In contrast, the incoming freshmen class of college basketball players is outstanding. With the likes of heralded prep stars like Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), considered perhaps the best pure prospect since LeBron, not to mention the acclaimed Jabari Parker (Duke), forget underwhelming. When you talk about how flush this class is with talent, we might be understating it.
Thing is, the intriguing part comes when you cruise through the various scouting reports documenting this top-heavy freshmen class, you’ll find statements such as: “On pure talent, Gordon would be No. 2 on the list.”
Yes — that would be UA recruit Aaron Gordon. Take a quick glance at any of his high school highlight videos online and it’s immediately obvious — Gordon (6-foot-8) is more athletic than any player currently on the Suns roster (all apologies to Shannon Brown & Wes Johnson).
As the MVP of the recent McDonald’s All-American game, Gordon finished with 24 pts, 8 rebounds and 9 dunks (Note: there were probably 900 slams in the game overall).
As the first line in the AP game story read: “The anticipated showdown between Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins became a sidebar to Aaron Gordon’s big night.”
Recently, during the UA Road Tour event at Chase Field, I had a chance to chat with Sean Miller. In the wake of Gordon’s MVP performance at the McDonald’s game, did I ask the ‘Cats coach about his incoming super frosh?
You bet I did. Alas, all Coach Miller would offer was a smile and somewhat reluctant admission that Gordon has a chance to be “special.”
Fair enough. We understand a head coach electing not to over-aggrandize, if you will, an incoming recruit.
So, I got on the phone and called a guy who actually asked Paulie Low Tops to serve as best man in his wedding.
Believe it or not, this person is actually of sound mind and (a past-its-prime) body. More importantly, he happens to be a high school head coach in the Bay Area who just spent the past three seasons getting schooled by the prep phenom Aaron Gordon.
“Incredible athlete,” said the rival coach when asked for a first-person scouting report. “He’s very adept at handling the basketball. He’s got guard skills and he’s a very good passer. Can play point guard.”
“Heck of a rebounder, can block shots, plays above the rim,” the coach continued. “(Gordon) shows a lot of poise. Manages his emotions when teams try and get physical, because guys would hammer him. Doesn’t have an anger problem. That part I was very impressed by.”
“Big question is can he shoot the jump shot? Because he can defend. He can guard 6-2, 6-3 shooters. In the state tourney, he covered a guard. Did a great job (defending) against a guard going to UNLV.”
Then, he used the words “lottery pick” and asked if I had any more questions? Uh, no. That pretty much covers it.
Alas, what are the chances the Suns will someday wind up with what UA has now?
Wanna take a look?