Aaron Gordon OK with attention

Mostly, that's because Arizona is No. 1 in the country and 18-0. Sort of hard to pick much apart with that.

Part of it is the way the Wildcats are constructed and the way Gordon plays. He is not a volume shooter. He's not going to take 20 shots (he only averages 9.8 per game) and, frankly, Arizona doesn't need him to. So his numbers won't make your eyes bulge.

"Until you see him play, you don't understand all that he does,'' Miller said.

Arizona has done a decent job of protecting him, too, limiting his media engagements and exposure.

But a bulk of it has to do with Aaron himself. He's remarkably unaffected by all of the attention and hoopla.

"You know, I've had it a while,'' he said. "Once you get to college, it's just a bigger spotlight. The nation sees you instead of just California, but I don't mind it. The year of the freshman thing? I'm a freshman, so if it's our year, I'm OK with that. I love to be challenged.''

Gordon's biggest challenger is the man in the mirror.

His parents didn't push him, not to play basketball, or to play anything really.

The rule was simple: If the Gordon kids wanted to try a sport, they tried it. Consequently the family sporting equipment closets at one time housed ice hockey gear (for everyone), football uniforms (for Aaron) and water polo suits (for Elise).

"My son went to college at the age of 17 because I didn't know people held their kids back for sports purposes,'' Shelly said. "I never heard of that. My kids were just kids.''

Instead Aaron drove himself.

As a kid in the backyard instead of dreaming he was a great player, he dreamed of beating great players. Then, if he messed up his move, he'd do it again and again until he "won." Now he replays games in his mind, harping on his mistakes, envisioning what he could do better. He puts winning above everything, but that doesn't mean he accepts mediocrity from himself.

"As much as I know I can count on my teammates, I still put the pressure on myself to come out and perform,'' he said. "If in some games I don't and my teammates step up, I'm happy for them, extremely happy but I'm disappointed in myself.''

He admits, when asked, that he has played a perfect game but in his mind a perfect game isn't a lot of points.

"It has to include rebounds,'' he said.

Because of his on-court ability and maturity, it's easy to forget that Gordon is just a kid. Then you talk to him and there it is. He's not even going to be 19 until September.

He still talks about road games like summer camp -- "This winter break, it was just traveling, being with my friends, hooping. It was the best" -- and likes to show he's a little quirky by dressing funny.

He loafs around campus in a pair of beat up Converse sneakers that have crossed over the line of vintage and into scruffy. He might partner them with his Broke Billionaire T-shirt, or maybe a sweater straight out of Bill Cosby's 1988 closet.

"That's my Cali swag,'' he said.

It's all helped endear him to his teammates and eased what could have been an awkward transition. Gordon is not the only stud recruit on the Wildcat roster. Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were all big pick ups when they signed with Arizona.

Gordon just happened to be the biggest.

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