Ed Gordon played basketball at San Diego State, a bruising 6-foot-6 forward in the 1980s who happened to be teammates with future baseball superstar Tony Gwynn.
A few decades later, Drew Gordon became one of college basketball’s best power forwards, starting his career at UCLA before transferring to New Mexico and dominating the Mountain West Conference on his way to a pro career.
To say basketball is in Aaron Gordon’s bloodlines may be a bit of an understatement. After all, this story has yet to mention Elisabeth Gordon, who played four years at Harvard, or Tony Harvey, who starred at Utah under Rick Majerus.
And now comes Aaron. While his father, his brother, his sister and first cousin, respectively, paved their own basketball trails, Gordon is a shining star in the upcoming NBA Draft, a 6-9 ballplayer featuring hybrid skills whom the Utah Jazz are seriously considering with their No. 5 overall pick.
Simply stated, Gordon has grown up around the game and seen a lot — more than the typical 18-year-old. Maybe that explains his maturity on and off the court. Perhaps that says plenty about his ability to be humble. The pre-draft process can be a grind and a drain, yet Gordon says he enjoys every last minute.
When he worked out for the Jazz two weeks ago, the front office raved about his energy toward the end of the process.
“He’s a humble kid and he’s got great parents and a great family,” Harvey said. “He’s played a lot of basketball and he’s developed great maturity over the years. He’s one of those kids who will be successful even if he didn’t have basketball in his life, and that’s a great testament to how he was raised.”
Gordon left Arizona after his freshman season, and remains one of the most uniquely talented players in this draft. It speaks volumes to his other abilities that Gordon is high on Utah’s radar without developing yet as a shooter. But he’s such an athlete, such a defender and rebounder, and such a passer for his position that teams are questioning whether they can pass him up.
Jazz VP of player personnel Walt Perrin called Gordon’s upside considerable, especially with him being one of the youngest players in the draft. Boston reportedly loves him with the No. 6 pick, and word has it that he worked out very well for Sacramento, which will pick eighth.
But does he fit in with the Jazz? Utah can certainly use an infusion of raw athleticism, and Gordon would provide that in spades. The Jazz also need defending, and Gordon was one of college basketball’s best on that end of the floor.
To his credit, Gordon knows the shooting must improve, particularly from the free-throw line. Through the last month, that’s what he’s been trying to show the teams he has auditioned for.
“The shot feels better, that’s the main thing,” Gordon said. “Obviously, it’s the one thing I can do to make it tougher for people to guard me.”
The next two weeks will be huge for Jazz decision-makers. They’ve already taken a good look at Gordon. Indiana power forward Noah Vonleh will work out for the team Monday morning. Kentucky power forward Julius Randle is expected to work out for the team before next week’s draft as well.
That makes the impression Gordon left on Utah a big one. He played with an infectious attitude during his workout, and presents an intriguing package.
Will that package be impressive enough for the Jazz to draft him?
A closer look • Aaron Gordon
Height • 6-foot-9
Position • Small/power forward
College • Arizona
Personal • Has four family members who played Division I college basketball: His father, Ed, played at San Diego State; his brother Drew played at UCLA and New Mexico; his sister Elisabeth played four years at Harvard; his first cousin Tony Harvey starred at Utah under Rick Majerus.
P June 26, 5 p.m.
TV • ESPN