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My first recollection of Arizona Wildcats guard Gabe York was watching him shoot, shoot and shoot during an AAU game at a Las Vegas high school auxiliary gymnasium — you know, the small one adjacent to the larger gym — with a handful of college coaches before his junior year at the prep level in 2010.
I got a tip that Arizona coach Sean Miller may watch York play with the Compton Magic there. When I arrived, I saw Kevin O’Neill of USC in a corner, ASU’s Herb Sendek and UCLA’s Ben Howland. No sign of Miller, not even assistants Book Richardson or Archie Miller.
I stepped out to the big gym later and saw Richardson watching high-profile recruit Jahii Carson play.
I thought to myself, “So this is where it’s at? … Are they even interested in York?”
After York’s game, in which he showed one of the more deft shooting touches I’ve seen from a prospect his age, I asked the 16-year-old at the time if he had Arizona high on his list.
“I’m looking at a lot of schools and they’re one of them,” York said. “I can’t really say where they stand right now because I’m just getting to know all about them.”
From then until now, York has not only established a relationship with Miller, he has reached a trust level that has kept him in Tucson though difficult odds. Miller sold York on the program, beating other Pac-12 programs that may have shown more of interest earlier, and he confided in York that belongs with the Wildcats.
Miller offered York a scholarship the following summer after I saw York for the first time. York accepted that offer six months later. Although York played sparingly last season as a freshman, he holds no regrets for trying to continue to build his relationship with Miller and his staff.
If York does not give up on his Arizona experience, what does that say about the guard’s ability to accept the responsibility of becoming a better basketball player? He could have transferred elsewhere and disregarded the need to improve his defense and conditioning.
Bruce Pascoe wrote a marvelous piece on York this week for The Arizona Daily Star.
“I give Gabe and his family tremendous credit because they didn’t take the easy way out,” Miller is quoted as saying by Pascoe. “I think they did what was right, and Gabe continues to evolve. He’s doing a great job in school, he’s a year older, he’s stronger.
“Moving forward he can have an even bigger role in the future and maybe evolve into an all-conference player.”
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