With the departures of T.J. McConnell and Stanley Johnson to the NBA, it seems odd that this year’s backcourt may be more crowded than last. But for elite college basketball programs, the task is to reload, not rebuild. As this season approaches, senior Gabe York looks primed and ready to build on his successful junior campaign.
As last season’s Sweet 16 matchup against Ohio State illustrated, York is a terrifying perimeter threat. But aside from his three point shooting, what encourages the coaching staff is his growth as a more complete basketball player on both ends of the floor. This season, York’s impact is important for Arizona to replace the scoring punch and leadership lost from last year’s team.
York’s career at Arizona has been three years of emotional highs and lows. After graduating from Orange Lutheran High School as the all time leading scorer and a worldwide YouTube phenomenon, the expectation was to contribute right away. When that did not happen, the offseason temptations to transfer were obvious.
The addition of Stanley Johnson limied York’s minutes during what could have been a breakout season. York easily could have left a talented program to shine elsewhere like some of his teammates did. But each offseason York chose to stay in Tucson, grinding towards a more prominent role.
In the current one and done landscape of college basketball, York’s career progression is a throwback to the way things used to be. York has followed a traditional path of steady improvement, slowly gaining playing time and responsibility. York was a key contributor in some moments, but not consistent enough to make his mark every night.
York has learned patiently, waiting for his number to be called and seizing the opportunity on numerous occasions. Now, York enters his senior year, when it is all supposed to click and those years of experience give him the edge and confidence to be a star.
Minutes are not guaranteed with the talent Arizona has in the backcourt, they will have to be earned. Roles will be decided through the daily grind of practices leading up to the season. But what should give York the advantage is his defensive improvement and the trust he’s earned with Sean Miller and the Arizona coaching staff.
This year, York’s role extends well beyond the basketball court. He will be looked at for vocal leadership, as someone who has experienced and excelled in postseason play. With Arizona losing their four leading scorers from last year’s team, York’s perimeter shooting and his and ability to attack the basket will be a telling sign of just how good this Arizona team can be.
With a larger role comes greater expectations. Now as a senior capping off a tumultuous career in hopes of one last run in March, Gabe York is embracing those expectations with open arms.