Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. –– Aaron Gordon has been on the shelf for nearly seven weeks with a fractured left toe, so he was anxious to get back on the basketball court.
And when he did, he put on quite a show.
The 6-foot-8 senior forward went for 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals — including a jaw-dropping, two-handed Blake Griffin-esque dunk off a pass that was seemingly behind his head — as the Oakland Soldiers downed Team Final, 70-58, Thursday night at the Peach Jam.
“I just haven’t really been on my feet a lot lately, so I mean it’s good, I have almost all my legs back,” Gordon told SNY.tv. “I just need my toe not to be hurting me at all anymore.”
Earlier in the day, Gordon, out of San Jose (Calif.) Mitty High, posted 11 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in an 86-59 rout of the Playaz Basketball Club.
For the nightcap, a slew of Pac-12 coaches were in the gym, including Arizona’s Sean Miller, Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, Oregon’s Dana Altman, as well as assistants from Stanford, Washington State, Cal and many other schools.
“I definitely notice the coaches before and after the game, but not during the game,” he said. “I tend not to pay attention to them at all.”
The Rivals No. 2 small forward in the Class of 2013, Gordon listed Washington, Arizona, Oregon, Kansas, Kentucky, New Mexico and Stanford.
He has already visited Arizona, Washington, Stanford and New Mexico and is looking at signing in the spring of 2013.
“I’ll take a few visits before I even make my decision at all,” he said. “And I’m probably going to watch a lot of the NCAA basketball [tournament].”
One Division 1 head coach who’s not recruiting Gordon said the Griffin comparison was apt.
“He’s got that Blake Griffin stuff,” the coach said. “He really goes hard, you never see him coasting.”
Asked what Gordon’s upside was, Soldiers coach Derrick Artis said: “Absolutely, he can be the top player in the country. The effort and energy that he plays with, his skills are really developing.”
Gordon likes the comparison to Griffin, who made the U.S. Olympic team before he was sidelined by a knee injury.
“I kind of want to play a little more perimeter than that,” Gordon said. “But I’m by far the tallest dude on our team so I’m kind of pigeon-holed into the big man a little bit.”
Artis said people back in California call him “Scottie Griffin, for Scottie Pippen and Blake Griffin because he does everything….The dunks are his bread and butter but he’s really starting to refine the other stuff about his game and then with his motor, the sky is the limit.”
Photo: HKO Photos
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.