Arizona Basketball: Aaron Gordon Must Start at Small Forward as a Freshman

David BessinFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2013

Credit: Dennis Lee/MaxPreps
Credit: Dennis Lee/MaxPreps

All-American prospect Aaron Gordon committed to the Arizona Wildcats in early April. After his commitment, he told (subscription required) he expects to play on the wing. That didn’t stop national debate on what position the athletic specimen should play on head coach Sean Miller’s roster.

The argument has continued into the summer. NBC sportswriter Rob Dauster thinks he’d be best suited at power forward. Some want him at the 3. Others claim fellow freshman stud Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is better and Gordon should come off the bench.

If Coach Miller wants as many wins as possible next season, there’s no hesitation. Gordon should take up the starting small forward spot—for his freshman year.

Make no mistake, his projected NBA position is at the 4. But at 6’8” and 210 pounds, he does not have the bulk to guard bigger power forwards right now. This includes both national and Pac-12 players Gordon would assuredly face. From Michigan’s Jordan Morgan to Josh Scott of Colorado, he’d be outmuscled in the games Arizona needs to win.

Let Gordon spend a season under a college weight program. Once he’s gained the 15 to 20 pounds he needs, it’s hard to think of a better power forward in the country. A shift to the 4 during his sophomore year could bring out the Blake Griffin comparisons everyone’s drooling over.

Naysayers point out that his weak perimeter shooting shouldn’t allow him to play on the perimeter. While they may be right, Arizona’s other option at the 3, Hollis-Jefferson, isn’t the best shooter. Both ESPN (subscription required) and state Rondae's glaring weakness in his shooting ability.

What’s more, Gordon would be a huge small forward in today’s college basketball. Combined with his athletic ability, he’d create matchup nightmares, especially on the defensive end. His length and bounce for a 3 more than make up for his shooting inefficiencies.

Finally, the Wildcats would boast one of the biggest, most athletic frontcourts in the nation. In fact, the combination of Gordon, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski could possibly be the best since Florida fielded Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer.

When they’re on the floor with Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell, Arizona has a starting 5 that’s potentially unguardable.

If Gordon plays power forward, Ashley is forced to be a reserve. While Hollis-Jefferson is more than capable at the 3, this new frontcourt is one opposing coaches would rather face.

Gordon at small forward gives the folks in Tuscon their best shot at coming out of March Madness with some new hardware. After that, he can move to his natural position and continue to dominate the college game.