This article isn’t about anyone but Gabe York.
For the last two seasons York has put in the work, but gotten very little chance to shine. It was a product of being on supremely talented rosters.
But as a junior, with a more mature game and more experience, York should be starting.
Up until now the prevailing talk has been about what York couldn’t do to get on the court. Now let’s talk about what he can do to stay on it.
That starts with three point shooting. York is the best long range shooter on the team, and it’s not even close. Fellow junior Brandon Ashley, a power forward, is a distant second. That alone gives York a unique importance to this team.
If Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can’t get to the rim, or if teams are denying Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski the ball, York can be the guy to open up the floor for everybody. Spacing is critical in basketball, and York’s shot can create it for the four other players on the court.
Let’s not make the mistake of labeling York a one dimensional player, though. Sure, he’s a threat to the defense when he’s camped out on the perimeter ready to catch and shoot, and that’s where he should be most of the time.
But York’s athleticism and ball handling ability should translate to attempts at the rim, and an all-around weaker defensive gameplan against him. If teams have to respect York’s ability to drive, he becomes so much more than a three point specialist.
York has everything you want in a shooting guard, he’s athletic, unselfish, and most importantly he’s the purest shooter on the team.
He also has another thing you want in a starter: experience.
This won’t be the York you saw as a freshman or even as a sophomore. There’s a natural maturation process that happens when you go through the gauntlet that is college basketball.
Arizona’s newcomers will learn that in a baptism by fire. The speed and intensity of the college game makes the high school level look like backyard pick up games. Not every player can enter the program and fit in seamlessly on a top caliber team like Aaron Gordon did.
That’s why Arizona will need to lean on York to show the new players the way. He’s no longer one of the new guys, he’s the veteran who has to bring along the new guys.
Perhaps the most important reason why York needs to be in the starting lineup is that he’s earned it. He showed patience and a willingness to learn while playing the reserve role for two seasons. If he can continue to perform in practice, he should be rewarded for that sacrifice.
York could have easily transferred by now, possibly playing big minutes at a major program. But he stayed loyal to the program and respected the process. Now it’s time to see that process come to fruition in the 2014-15 version of Gabe York.
Whether York starts or not ultimately doesn’t matter, as Arizona will have six starter quality players that will all see their fair share of minutes. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the “Six Starters” theme start to trend as the season goes on.
But if you ask me, York should be a starter.