After playing sparingly last year, many people wondered about Gabe York’s role at Arizona. Would he get more minutes? Would he find himself on the end of the rotation again? Would he transfer?
But just five games into his sophomore year, all those questions have been answered. York is here to stay and he’s a big part of what the Wildcats are working toward. As the team’s top shooter and offensive sparkplug, York has carved out a meaningful role and is thriving in it.
York has exploded onto the scene, averaging a robust 11.6 points in just 22.2 minutes off the bench. He’s been red hot from the field converting 54.3% of his shots, including 52.2% from beyond the three point line, where he’s taking more than 4.5 attempts.
But we always knew York was a potent offensive player. It’s his improved defensive effort that has earned him playing time.
“I think defensively I’ve kind of surprised the coaches,” York said after Arizona’s win against Fairleigh Dickinson. “It’s what I’ve prided myself on. Offensively it’s always come easy to me. Through high school and even last year I had some glimpses of playing well offensively, so that doesn’t really surprise me. Defense is really what I’m focused on.”
York had 20 points and four three pointers on 8-11 shooting against FDU, by all means his career night.
“I think I played pretty well. It’s nice to come out here against a team that really isn’t that bad and have the game that I had,” he said.
As the third guard behind juniors Nick Johnson and TJ McConnell, some might expect York to come in with an itchy trigger finger and look to get his own shots. But York astutely noted that Arizona’s balance is what has made them special so far.
“We’re all within the same point range and rebounds [averages],” he said. “Even with defense, we’re all athletic. It’s going to take us very far this year.”
York also gave credit to his running mate TJ McConnell, who has handled the bulk of the point guard duties.
“His court vision is ridiculous. He knows how great of a point guard he is. He knows that he’s the one who gets this team going. I get wide open shots which makes it look like I’m playing really well, but really it’s just him getting me wide open shots,” York said.
One of the perks of being in the main rotation is that York now gets to enjoy blowouts from the bench as the team’s reserves handle business with a big lead. That’s a big promotion for a player who’s only playing time came in those scenarios last year.
“Nick [Johnson] and I are the biggest cheerleaders on the sideline,” York said, after walk-on Jacob Hazard played well to close out the game. “Seeing Jacob go out there and hit two threes gets us all excited.”