Here's what the Bay Area papers are saying:
Aaron Gordon, No. 1 Arizona play at Stanford
Updated 11:19 pm, Tuesday, January 28, 2014
It's a great time for Ed Gordon and his wife, Shelly Davis. Best of all, Shelly's father, Floyd, is cancer-free for the first time in three years, during which he underwent three operations to remove sarcoma tumors from his legs.Ed and Shelly's son, Drew, a former player at UCLA and New Mexico, is a pro in Italy for Dinamo Sassari. After a series of physical setbacks, daughter Elisabeth is a top reserve as a senior for Harvard (12-4), one of the favorites to win the Ivy League title.
Then there's 18-year-old Aaron Gordon, who returns to the Bay Area on Wednesday night when his top-ranked and undefeated Arizona Wildcats take on Stanford at Maples Pavilion.
There will be at least 40 relatives, friends and ex-teachers on hand to see the Archbishop Mitty-San Jose alum, arguably the best player the Bay Area has produced since Jason Kidd came out of St. Joseph-Alameda and Cal to enter the NBA draft 20 years ago.
Two other locals arrive with the Wildcats (20-0, 7-0 Pac-12), who also play at Haas Pavilion on Saturday night. Sophomore forward Brandon Ashley, the team's third leading scorer (12.2 points per game), played at Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland before attending Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., as a senior. Elliott Pitts, a freshman guard from De La Salle-Concord, was hampered early in the season by a sprained wrist and has played in only seven games.
The main player many Bay Area fans want to see is the Gordon, the only athlete to win The Chronicle's Player of the Year award three times. He led Mitty to two state titles and could be on the West Coast's first NCAA champion since Arizona in 1997.
Gordon, who's 6-foot-8, is averaging 12.3 points, second to Nick Johnson's 16.7, and leads the Wildcats in rebounding with a 7.8 average.
"Since Aaron came in here in the fall, his greatest gift is that he's the ultimate teammate," head coach Sean Miller said Tuesday during the Pac-12's weekly teleconference. "He's incredibly gifted, but he's also tireless. The first in the gym, the last to leave. He's very coachable. He tries to do everything we've asked him to do. Some games when he didn't score, he did other things well. His demeanor never changes."
Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins is impressed with Gordon's nonstop hustle. "He's got one of the best motors in the game," he said. "It's beautiful to see. He's always moving. That's what separates him from other great players."
The Cardinal (13-6, 4-3) are in need of an upset to improve their position for the NCAA Tournament. Stanford stands 53rd in RPI, which would make it a borderline at-large team for the 68-team tournament.
Stanford's last home win against a No. 1 team was over Arizona in 1988 (it also beat Duke in the 2000 Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland). Another upset of the Wildcats would be a delicious treat. Dawkins calls Arizona "the best team since I've been coaching in the conference."
The Wildcats probably will draw the biggest crowd of the season at Maples, and they'll have plenty of support. Besides the Gordon-Davis contingent, Ashley and Pitts will have many friends and family members on hand.
"We're going to be filling that place," Davis said.
Her son's Achilles heel is his foul shooting. He has hit 45 percent (43-for-95) from the line. The big question regarding Gordon, though, isn't why he has struggled so much on free-throw shooting. It's whether he's a one-and-done player who will leave college after one season to enter the NBA.
"You never know how that's going to play out until the end of the season," Davis said. "If everything goes as planned, he most likely will enter the draft. We're OK with that. You only have so many jumps in your legs. You have to pursue it when you can."
On the other hand, she said, Aaron wants to be a college coach someday, "and to be a college coach, you have to have a degree."
One of the happiest people at Maples will be Floyd Davis, an ex-Marine who has beaten back a very aggressive form of cancer. "The crowning jewel of his life is his grandkids," Davis said.
He'll get to celebrate his 84th birthday while watching his grandson play for a team that's got national title aspirations. Win or lose at Maples, it'll be hard to top that.
No. 1 comes to town
Who: No. 1 Arizona (20-0, 7-0 Pac-12) at Stanford (13-6, 4-3)
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Maples Pavilion
Who: Arizona at Cal
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Haas Pavilion
Tom FitzGerald is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @tomgfitzgerald
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Aaron Gordon returns to Bay Area with No. 1 Arizona
By Darren Sabedra
One of the great players in the history of Bay Area high school basketball is returning home Wednesday night, his legacy growing seemingly every time he steps onto a court.
Since Arizona star Aaron Gordon graduated from Archbishop Mitty last year, he has become a national highlight reel for the top-ranked team in the land.
But beyond the high-flying dunks that regularly appear on "SportsCenter," Gordon has brought the same ultra-competitive work ethic to the desert that made him a two-time California state high school player of the year while at Mitty.
Gordon's infectious drive to succeed has helped Arizona open the season with a program-record 20 consecutive wins and made his return home all the more special. Arizona visits Stanford on Wednesday and Cal on Saturday.
"It's definitely a homecoming," Gordon said Monday. "I get to be in my hometown, the Bay Area. There's going to be a lot of people, a lot of distractions, but I've got to just focus on getting wins."
As he was at Mitty, Gordon is a coach's dream at Arizona, a superstar more concerned about winning games and championships than individual numbers. Gordon, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound forward, is the Wildcats' second-leading scorer (12.3 points per game) and top rebounder (7.8 per game).
But his game is much more than points and rebounds.
"He's one of the great defenders in our conference," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "He defends multiple positions, which is very difficult for somebody who is (6-9). He's an excellent passer. He's really good in transition, whether he has the ball or doesn't.
"He does everything for us, and he's a big reason why our team has had the success that we've had to this point."
Gordon's presence on the court is not all that impresses Miller.
"Nobody has, in my mind, a higher breed of character than Aaron Gordon," the coach added. "He's an incredible teammate. He's one of the harder workers that I've been around. He's well beyond the years of his age."
Gordon, 18, did not fill the stat sheet when Arizona faced one of its toughest challenges thus far, a grinding game at home Sunday against Utah. But in the span of a couple of minutes, he propelled the Wildcats to victory.
With the score 47-47, Gordon helped create a turnover at one end, soared over a Utah player to grab an offensive rebound and then brought the McKale Center crowd to a frenzy with a thundering slam.
Moments later, Gordon leapt high to block a shot on the wing, grabbed another offensive rebound and fed a teammate for an easy basket.
The Wildcats rolled from there.
"Gordon's a great player," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "He's going to be a pro in one year. He's going to be a lottery pick. He's a monster."
Gordon was recently named USA Basketball's male athlete of the year for leading the United States to a gold medal at the under-19 world championships last summer, and his name can be found on virtually every mock NBA draft list.
But despite his rising fame, Gordon has kept his eye on the one quest that means the most right now.
"All I want to do is win a national title," Gordon said. "That's all I want to do. I don't care about anything else."
Back at Mitty, where Gordon led the Monarchs to state titles in 2011 and 2012 and a Northern California crown last season, his crowd-buzzing plays are nothing new.
"We're not as awed because that's what he did every day," Mitty coach Tim Kennedy said. "But what I am happy about is the recognition that he's getting for being a great teammate, being a great defender. Stuff that went unnoticed in high school because the dunks overshadow it."
Gordon keeps in touch with his former coach and teammates. When the Monarchs won at rival Serra this month, he made sure to congratulate them.
"He's still down to earth," Mitty guard Connor Peterson said.
Gordon's family, friends and former teachers are expected at Maples Pavilion on Wednesday, but his former teammates will not be there. They won't be at Cal on Saturday, either, because Mitty has games both days.
"I'm more disappointed that I can't go see their games," Gordon said.
The one glitch in an otherwise special homecoming.
Bay Area News Group's Jeff Faraudo contributed to this report. Follow Darren Sabedra on Twitter at twitter.com/DarrenSabedra.
Arizona (20-0, 7-0 Pac-12) at Stanford (13-6, 4-3), 6 p.m., ESPN2
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