Incoming Arizona freshman Aaron Gordon helped lead the US U19 team to the gold medal game of the FIBA World Championships, scoring 14 points while displaying his ever-growing versatility.
The United States squad, which features Gordon, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, incoming Washington point guard Nigel Williams-Ross, as well as elite high school recruits Jahlil Okafor and Justice Winslow, had no trouble getting past Lithuania in the semi-finals, winning 100-60.
The game plan formed by head coach Billy Donovan was to get the ball to the bigs, primarily Okafor and Gordon, who far outsized the comparatively less developed Lithuanian defenders.
Gordon was assigned to the power forward position where he for the most part stayed on the low block and continuously used his silky soft touch to score without creating much contact.
He was also the recipient of a high-flying alley-oop pass from Winslow that would have gone over the heads of anyone on the court not named Aaron Gordon. Instead, the 6’8, 210 pound 17 year old reached up and slammed home the feed over a merciless defender.
For those who missed the logic-defying dunk, don’t worry, you can watch it here.
However, it wasn’t Gordon’s display of exceptional athleticism that was most impressive but rather his all-around play making abilities on both sides of the ball.
On two separate occasions, Gordon came up with a steal on one end and dribbled the ball up the court with the ease and demeanor of a guard. One trip ended with an assist and the other was an attempted coast-to-coast finish at the rack, although Winslow had to slam in the put-back when Gordon’s layup rattled out.
The leading scorer and rebounder for the United States, Gordon also made his defensive presence felt with two blocks and steals each. Simply put, he was as dominant as ever and once he gains more consistency and confidence in his jumper, there is no telling how high his ceiling can reach.
Winslow meanwhile had one of his best games of the tournament, scoring 15 points – second to only Marcus Smart – and grabbing a team high nine rebounds. The Arizona target had an impressive alley-oop finish, coming on a half-court lob from Williams-Ross.
The U19 squad hopes to end its trip to Prague, Czech Republic by winning the gold medal when it plays Serbia tomorrow afternoon. The game will be shown on WatchESPN.com and it will provide Arizona fans their last chance to see Aaron Gordon before he brings his talents to Tucson.