3-point shot: Aaron Gordon a rising star

July, 10, 2013
7/10/13
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1. VCU's Shaka Smart, who was an assistant to Florida's Billy Donovan on the gold-medal winning FIBA USA U-19 team, said on our ESPNU College Basketball Podcast Tuesday that Arizona-bound forward Aaron Gordon was the "best pressing forward I've seen. He's a high-motor guy. He catches lob dunks and flies. He'll have an immediate impact and help the team win at a high level." That's exactly what the Arizona staff anticipated from Gordon, who was the MVP of the FIBA World Championships in Prague. "Aaron's greatest talent lies in his mind -- highly competitive, intelligent, plays to win, and a great teammate," said Arizona coach Sean Miller. "He combines this with exceptional athletic talent and physical gifts. It's this combination that makes his future so bright. He also is very young, turning just 18, which is one reason why I believe he continues to improve at a rapid pace."

2. Smart also discussed Brad Stevens' stunning move from Butler to the Boston Celtics. Smart, like Stevens and Gonzaga's Mark Few, have been the immovable coaches recently, not fazed by any wooing of perceived higher-level schools. All have felt comfortable in their current situations, enjoy their lives and superiors. The three have discussed their futures at different times and Few has been the one who has advised more coaches in this situation than others based on his experience. Smart was in Prague when he heard Stevens was leaving. "Brad had mentioned his interest in the NBA before,'' Smart said on the podcast. "I'm not shocked there was interest. The Boston Celtics are quite possibly the best franchise, maybe second to the Yankees, in sports. It's terrific for Brad. There were some people who said it was bad for college basketball. I just think it's an unbelievable opportunity for Brad. It's a new opportunity for Brandon Miller (at Butler) and he'll continue the tradition.''

3. A year ago, the U-19 coaching staff couldn't stop raving about Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and his ability to win. The intangibles Smart possesses were praised during the gold medal win in Brazil for the U-18 team. Smart was not the dominant presence on this team as Gordon and Montrezl Harrell were more of the focus. Shaka Smart said the OSU lead guard had a more complicated situation. He said Smart, no relation, was under the microscope more but he was still able to help the Americans win. "He always has the team in mind,'' VCU's Smart said. "He was OK with less minutes. He had a good tournament, not great. But the game was called much tighter there.'' Smart averaged 9.6 points on the team (20 assists, 13 turnovers and 22 steals), behind Gordon, Harrell and the two high school seniors Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow. Smart is still considered one of the top players next season, possible All-American candidate as well as a likely top five pick if he were to come out in June of 2014.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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