Article about AG, his family and his homecoming trip to the Bay.
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 ArchbishopMitty-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 winThe 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.