Gordon, Johnson Declare for NBA Draft - The Explorer: Sports

Gordon, Johnson Declare for NBA Draft

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Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 3:29 pm

TUCSON, Ariz. – Following a season in which they helped lead the Arizona men’s basketball program to a 33-5 record, a Pac-12 regular-season title and an Elite Eight appearance, Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson have entered their names in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Gordon averaged 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 blocks per game in 38 contests (all starts) for Arizona this season, leading the team on the boards and ranking second in both scoring and blocks. He posted a team-high eight double-doubles, good for sixth in the Pac-12, and shot 49.5 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from beyond the arc.

He scored in double figures 28 times, including three 20-point games, and put up 11 double-figure rebounding performances. Gordon finished the season ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds per game (2.7), seventh in rebound average (8.0), 11th in blocks per game (1.0) and defensive rebounds per game (5.3), 14th in field goal percentage (.495) and 22nd in scoring (12.4).

His 303 total rebounds on the year were the most in program history by a freshman, breaking a 40 year-old team record, and the 10th-highest single-season total in program history. He also started more games (38) than any other freshman in UA history.

Gordon finished the year ranked second on UA’s freshman list for minutes played (1,187), as well as third in field goals (189), fourth in rebound average (8.0), fifth in blocks (39) and eighth in points (470).

The San Jose native was named a third-team All-American by the Sporting News, as well as first-team All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. He was one of six finalists for the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year Award.

“Aaron has so many gifts as a player,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “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.”

Johnson led Arizona in scoring in 2013-14 with an average of 16.3 points per game, and also ranked second on the team in assists (2.8 per game) and steals (1.1 per game). He shot 43.2 percent from the floor and 78.1 percent from the free throw line, while averaging a career-high 4.1 rebounds per game and posting a 1.67 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Gilbert, Ariz., native reached the 20-point mark a team-high 11 times on the year and had one double-double. He became the 48th member of Arizona’s 1,000-point club in mid-January, scoring in double figures in 35 of 38 games this season. His 618 points as a junior marked the second-best single-season total in Miller’s tenure.

Johnson ranked eighth in the Pac-12 overall rankings in scoring (16.3), 11th in three-point field goals per game (1.6), 14th in steals per game (1.1) and 14th in assists per game (2.8). He finished the conference season ranked 10th in scoring (16.2), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8), seventh in steals per game (1.5) and 14th in assists per game (3.0) in Pac-12 games.

In recognition of those efforts, Johnson was named a first-team All-American by the NABC, Sporting News, USBWA and Wooden Award, as well as a second-team selection by the AP. He was also named Pac-12 Player of the Year, first-team All-Pac-12, USBWA District IX Player of the Year and first-team NABC All-District 20. He was the Most Outstanding Player at the NIT Season Tip-Off and a member of the Pac-12 Tournament All-Tournament Team, and was named a finalist for all three major National Player of the Year awards.

 “Nick embodies all of the qualities you want in a player,” Miller said. “He’s extremely unselfish, plays both ends of the floor and always thinks about winning first. He’s made a meteoric improvement across the board in his time at Arizona, and that stems from his unbelievable attitude and his desire to be a great player. After receiving the feedback from the NBA, Nick, his family and our staff came together and we think it’s appropriate that he moves on to the next level. When you’re a first-team All-American, it speaks volumes to your talent. He leaves Arizona with my complete support, and I have no doubt that he’s going to be successful at the next level.”

Last summer, ESPN ranked Arizona sixth among all college programs in terms of producing top NBA talent over the last two-plus decades.

Over the last two-and-a-half decades, NBA Draft night has been a night of celebration for members of the Arizona men’s basketball program, as 36 UA players have heard their names called since 1988.

The Wildcats’ 36 selections since 1988 are tied with Duke and Kentucky for the most in the nation over that span. Kansas has 33 selections in that time, while North Carolina and UCLA both have 31.

UA players have been far from content by just hearing their names called on draft night, however. As has been reported by various media outlets, the fraternity of Arizona’s NBA players is nearing the collective $1 billion mark in career earnings, with the total haul set to exceed $960 million this season.

Collectively, the Wildcats who have been drafted since 1988 are an accomplished group, having won 13 NBA championships and made six All-Star appearances. The group also boasts an NBA Rookie of the Year (current UA assistant coach Damon Stoudamire), a Sixth Man of the Year (Terry) and a Most Improved Player (Gilbert Arenas).

For the latest updates on Arizona men’s basketball and an inside look at the program, follow @APlayersProgram on Twitter.

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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