University of Arizona head coach Sean Miller said the reason why Aaron Gordon is among the top freshmen in college basketball isn’t just his talent, but his attitude as well.
“His greatness as a player lies is that he contributes to every statistical category,” said Miller. “He will continue to improve because the other thing you love about him is he’s got a burning desire to be a great player. He’s among the hardest working kids I’ve ever coached.”
Gordon is one member of a freshman class that also includes Duke’s Jabari Parker. Miller and Arizona faced Parker in the championship of the NIT Season Tip-off and were able to limit the freshman.
“We were able to run 3 different defenders at him,” said Miller. “What we tried to do was get him to take a lot of shots to get his points and fortunately for us that’s what happened.”
Despite their success against Parker, the Arizona coach came away from the game with high praise for the 18-year-old’s skills.
“I don’t know if I’ve been on court in college with someone who’s that efficient offensively,” said Miller. “He’s huge around the basket, in many ways almost like a center, if he gets the ball close to the basket. I think when you’re there in person, you really respect his size and couple that with how he does it away from the basket.”
Arizona is currently #2 in the polls, the highest spot the school’s been since Miller arrived in 2009, but the coach said he wants that top spot.
“We know being the No. 1 team in the nation in December doesn’t get you anything,” said Miller. “But I will tell you this, there’s something to be said about playing on a team that was ranked No. 1. I mean that’s something that nobody can ever take away from us.”
If anything, trying to achieve the top ranking will keep Miller’s team hungry in the meantime.
“Everything we do, every day, every game is important,” said Miller. “Honor the process, which in sports you hear a lot, but if trying to be ranked the number 1 team leads us down that path even more than we are now, then I think that’s something that I can hope fuels our fire here for at least for the next couple of weeks.”