Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats’ Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson on Wooden Top 25 list


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Aaron Gordon has the work ethic necessary to make improvements on his game

Aaron Gordon has the work ethic necessary to make improvements on his game

Top-ranked Arizona has much to accomplish despite the accolades and records the Wildcats have broken to this point.

One distinction of honor is the John Wooden Award, given to the game’s player of the year. Sean Elliott is the lone Arizona player to win the Wooden Award in 1989.

Arizona junior guard Nick Johnson, who leads the Wildcats with 16.3 points a game, and freshman forward Aaron Gordon, who averages 12.4 and 7.8 rebounds a game.

Arizona coach Sean Miller was a guest on ESPN’s SVP & Rusillo Show this week and talked about different topics, including the development of Gordon.

Miller calls Gordon “level-headed and grounded” because of his upbringing and how he conducts himself. Miller said Gordon “walks from place to place and doesn’t have a car.”

Among Gordon’s traits are his impeccable work ethic. Earlier this week, Gordon Tweeted a picture of an empty McKale Center and titled it: “Solitude”. He is a gym rat who endears himself to all facets of the game, mental and physical.

“Whether it be free throw or three-point shooting percentage, he’s improved a lot,” Miller said. “But he plays for the win. I don’t even think he’s taking one three-point shot per game by now. That doesn’t necessarily define him. …

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Nick Johnson has emerged as one of the top 25 players in college hoops

Nick Johnson has emerged as one of the top 25 players in college hoops

“In terms of what makes him a special player, the things he does really, really well and come naturally to him are his motor, his energy level, his defense ability, his rebounding … as long as he’s focused on that, you know, once in while we’ll live with a three-point attempt.”

Gordon has only tried four three-pointers in five Pac-12 games and has missed all of them. He has made 7 of 22 overall in Arizona’s 18 games. His glaring weakness is his free-throw shooting — 45.9 percent (39 of 85).

Johnson, who embodies the same characteristic of trying to continually improve, most likely wants to improve his assist-to-turnover (44 to 34) ratio and shoot better than 40 percent from three-point range. He is shooting 39 percent (32 of 82) from beyond the arc.

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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.

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