October 24, 2012

Gordon looking forward to seeing tradition of Kentucky

Everyone in the recruiting world seems fairly certain that five-star San Jose (Cal.) native Aaron Gordon will be playing his college basketball on the west coast.

That seems to make sense for the versatile forward, who is ranked no. 5 in the 2013 Rivals150. After all, Gordon lists several Pac 12 schools like Washington, Oregon, California, Stanford and Arizona on his school list.

So why is Gordon wasting his time visiting the Midwest to check out Kentucky?

"Visiting Kentucky is not a waste of time at all," said Gordon's father, Ed Gordon. "We wouldn't be traveling all the way across the country for visits to places like Kentucky and Kansas unless Aaron was genuinely interested in those schools. I don't think distance is as big of a factor as people have made it out to be."

In fact, according to Gordon, distance will not even be a factor in the final decision of Aaron on where he will be playing his college basketball.

While distance isn't a factor, one thing that is very important to the Gordon family is the reputation of the program as a developer of top players. This is an area where Kentucky has had a great deal of success.

"We want to see how coach (John) Calipari develops and relates to his players in person," said Gordon.

"Aaron has had an opportunity to see some of the guys that are coming into Kentucky, as well as the previous Kentucky basketball machines. We've seen how well those guys have all come together and then how high they've gone in the draft. Understanding all of that is part of the reason why we're going out to Lexington to take a look at the school."

With Gordon taking note of players that have gone through Kentucky recently, and committed players from the 2013 class who will be joining the Big Blue Nation, the tradition of a winning program becomes even more appealing to the 6-foot-7 athlete.

After taking a trip to Kansas for midnight madness, and with a trip to Arizona on the docket for this weekend, Gordon is becoming more and more familiar with elite programs. But one top program that he has not evaluated in person would be Kentucky's.

"Much like the Kansas visit we're really excited to see the tradition of Kentucky live in person," said Gordon.

"It's Kentucky. They're National Champions. We want Aaron to be able to see the campus, but more than anything we want to get a look at why the program has been able to be so successful under coach Calipari."

Gordon's visit to campus, which will begin on November 10th, will be his fifth and final official visit. After taking in the visit to Lexington, Gordon plans on working towards his decision, but his father says that Aaron is in no hurry to rush a choice.

"Kentucky is going to be our last official visit," Gordon said, "I think that everyone is about even right now in Aaron's recruitment. There are certain things about each school that Aaron was blown away by, in a good way.

"He wants to wait and watch some college ball and make the decision in the spring time.

"We're confident in the fact that Aaron cannot make a bad choice out of the schools that are still in consideration. That being said, Aaron is doing all of his due diligence in making the most informed decision that he can."

Between meeting three of Gordon's expectations in a program; elite roster, reputation for developing players, and storied college basketball tradition; as well as having the hottest coach in the game right now in Calipari, you wouldn't think that Gordon would need much more motivation to consider the Wildcats as one of his finalists.

But Gordon has one extra piece of the puzzle to look at in making his choice, his friendship with UK commit Marcus Lee.

Like Lee, is a five-star prospect with breathtaking athleticism and good versatility on the court. Like Lee, Gordon is a high energy player whose production outweighs his skill-set, but has the potential to develop into a top professional player with improved ball-skills. Finally, like Lee, Gordon is from the Northern part of California, and the two players are very much acquainted with each other.

"Aaron and Marcus are friends, they talk from time to time," said Gordon. "I'm honestly not sure how much of a role it plays, but I can see Aaron being drawn to Kentucky because of knowing Marcus so well."

With a commitment from Lee, a visit upcoming for Gordon, and the recruitment of 2014 five-star Californian forward Stanley Johnson, it is no secret that Calipari is trying to strengthen his recruiting ties on the West Coast.

Only time will tell if Calipari can overtake the University of California, Stanford, UCLA and USC as the real "Cal."

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