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Gabe York made the transition from being Orange Lutheran High School’s career leading scorer to being mostly a reserve with Arizona through his first three years in the program.
He went from scoring 2,025 points in 114 games for Orange Lutheran in Orange, Calif., to posting only 662 in 90 games entering his senior season at Arizona.
York averaged 19.7 minutes a game through his first three years with the Wildcats and his career scoring average is at 7 points a game.
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Nick Johnson and Stanley Johnson were the starting shooting guards ahead of him the last three years. Stanley Johnson stepped in as a freshman starter last year, forcing York to come off the bench again despite his tenure in Sean Miller’s system.
With all of these circumstances, a lesser player would have transferred to another school or turned sour on his experience, relegated to a career off the bench.
Not York. His attitude and growth through Miller’s system has him as a definite starter a senior this season. He is to Arizona this year what veteran Nick Johnson was the to Wildcats two seasons ago. He is not the point guard like captain extraordinaire T.J. McConnell the last two years. Sophomore Parker Jackson-Cartwright and junior Kadeem Allen fill that role but they have not built enough stature to be identifiable leaders like York.
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The younger players respect York. His fellow senior teammates — Ryan Anderson, Mark Tollefsen and Kaleb Tarczewski — know that York is the glue. With so many new players with four starters gone, York’s leadership and performance can mean the difference for a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
He is that valuable.
If York plays the way he did against Chico State, Miller will be a happy man come season’s end. York tallied 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He also had five rebounds with two assist and no turnovers in 23 minutes.
In order to get Arizona’s transition game going, York and Arizona’s perimeter players must continue to yank rebounds like that. Look for York to pride himself as much on defense and with rebounding than he is with scoring this season.
That’s the mark of a champion at guard.
York is not about to give up now.