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Arizona Wildcats forward Aaron Gordon heading for NBA Draft

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Aaron Gordon has played his last game as an Arizona Wildcat, as the forward announced Tuesday he will forgo his three remaining seasons of NCAA eligibility to enter June’s NBA draft.

Gordon is a projected first-round pick.

“Aaron has so many gifts as a player,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said in a press conference Tuesday. “His high energy level, love for the game, competitive fire and ability to blend into a team and become a great teammate are a few of these. Considering he is 18 years old, I can certainly see why the NBA thinks so highly of him. I fully expect Aaron to be a high pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Whichever franchise chooses him is getting the ultimate winner.”

The 6-foot-9 225-pounder will enter an NBA Draft that some say is one of the strongest draft classes in the history of the league. In his lone season for Arizona, Gordon averaged 12.4 points and eight rebounds a game en route to being named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

As an NBA prospect, Gordon displays unique size and length, highlighted by his 6-foot-11 wingspan recorded at the 2013 USA Junior Team Hoop Summit. He may not possess ideal size for an NBA power forward, but he averaged one more rebound than his 7-foot teammate Kaleb Tarczewski.

Gordon put up eight double-doubles in 31.2 minutes per game, but struggled from the free throw line. Just a 42 percent shooter from the charity stripe, Gordon is not the guy to have at the line in crucial situations.

Defensively, Gordon’s hustle combined with his extreme athleticism, makes him a good addition for an up-tempo style of play in the NBA.

Mock scenarios of the June 26 NBA Draft place Gordon as a first-round pick, but where Gordon will fall in the first round is still up in the air.

Chad Ford of ranks the 18-year-old No. 6 on his big board, just under freshman Julius Randle of Kentucky. predicts Gordon to be drafted eighth overall by the Detroit Pistons.

NBADraft.Net’s Mock Draft has Gordon falling just outside of the 14 lottery picks at no. 15 off the board to the Orlando Magic.

The Wildcats started the 2013 season 21-0, but were unable to escape Wisconsin in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Gordon added eight points and pulled down a season-high 18 rebounds in his last collegiate game.