Everyone who has watched the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats this season knows who the team’s stars are.
Nick Johnson, a junior, leads the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game and is the emotional leader of the team.
Aaron Gordon, a freshman, is a highlight reel dunk waiting to happen who has quickly become a versatile and premier defender.
T.J. McConnell, the transfer from Duquesne, is averaging 6 assists per game and appears to be the perfect point guard for Sean Miller’s club.
Then there’s also Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, all of whom have had big monents and been recognized as bringing something important to the table for the still-undefeated Wildcats (20-0, 7-0).
But according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, in an Insider piece, the team’s “X factor” is reserve guard Gabe York.
Aaron Gordon is going to bring his intensity and energy, T.J. McConnell will be solid running the team. Nick Johnson has done everything this season and Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski have taken significant jumps from their freshman campaigns. But while Johnson is shooting 37 percent from deep and Ashley has made 10 of 25 from deep, this team does not possess a lights-out shooter. The closest thing? Reserve guard Gabe York. Coach Sean Miller has been reluctant to use the 6-foot-3 sophomore due to his defensive deficiencies, but York could be the X factor because opponents likely will play a lot of zone against the Wildcats in March — and York is the team’s top perimeter shooter. He made 3 of 6 in 18 minutes in a road win against UCLA earlier this month and drilled 3 of 5 in a 21-minute stint against Arizona State.
A sophomore from California, York played just 87 minutes as a freshman but has carved out a pretty prominent role this season. Goodman is not entirely accurate in his assessment that Miller is “reluctant” to use him, as York has appeared in every game this season and is averaging nearly 19 minutes per contest, but the point that the shooter could be huge for the team is accurate.
York is second on the team in three-point shots made and attempted, and is able to play some point guard and shooting guard for Arizona. He is averaging 7.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting .391 from the field and .403 from three-point range.