Aaron Gordon’s Draft Diary, Part One

The highly touted prospect from the University of Arizona talks Draft Combine, more.
by May 27, 2014

Since his collegiate career ended in April, after the University of Arizona Wildcats lost in the Elite Eight and he declared for the NBA Draft, freshman phenom Aaron Gordon has been in the lab. The nearly 6-8 forward took up residence in Southern California, where he’s been working out religiously. More recently, he traveled to Chicago, IL, for the NBA Draft Combine, and to Manhattan, NY, for the Draft lottery drawing. Gordon, the athletic younger brother of former high school star Drew Gordon, made a positive impression at both events. Barring something major, he’s expected to go in the lottery portion of the Draft. 

With only a month left until the Draft, which is being held in Brooklyn, NY, the affable Gordon has agreed to keep a weekly diary with SLAMonline. In the first entry, Gordon, who averaged 12.4 ppg and 8 rpg at Arizona, details his experience at the Combine and more. 

by Aaron Gordon (as told to Tzvi Twersky)

The Draft Combine in Chicago was cool.

On the first day, everyone was going through drills and I was on the side, just itching to get out there. I had my hands in my pockets. I was making, like, in-and-out crossovers in my pockets every time someone attacked the rim.

Basketball is such a small world that I had already seen all of the players. You know top to bottom who everybody is. You know what their games are like. So I just wanted to go out there and play so much.

I don’t know who improved the most between the college season and the Combine, but I’ve always liked Rodney Hood’s game. He was playing well out there. Other than that, I’ve seen a lot of those guys play already. My USA teammates were out there, too, so it was good to see them. (Last summer, Gordon played on Team USA under-19 in the FIBA world championship—Ed.) All of those guys are hilarious. There was a lot of talent in one room at the Combine. A lot.

When it was my turn to get measured, I was kind’ve tight and stiff. I didn’t jump as high as I should’ve. I only got a 39-inch vert, but I’ve done a 43 before. So I didn’t jump as high as I could’ve; I didn’t run as fast as I could’ve. It was just disappointing that I was out there to do one thing and I didn’t do everything the best that I could. I mean, I still did real well—I just could’ve done a lot better.

I was looking to see how other players did, definitely. It’s always a competition. I saw the chatter on Twitter, a little bit, but really I was just looking at the guys behind me on line to see how they were doing. I’m pretty sure I touched the highest out of anybody at the combine. I might not have jumped the highest, but I touched the highest. That was cool.

The Combine was also the first time I got to meet with NBA GMs and NBA teams. They all seem like good people. When I met with the teams, I got asked some interesting questions. The weirdest question was, How many pennies are in a million dollars?

The team meetings were each supposed to last 30 minutes, and they were all scheduled back-to-back-to-back basically. I answered all of their questions, then I asked my questions and we still had probably five minutes to spare. We ended up talking, just chopping it up a little bit.

Each team asks a lot of the same questions, so you have to figure out a way for it not to feel scripted and for it to sound genuine. I mean, it is genuine the whole time. I’m never scripting anything. But if they’re all going to ask you the same question, it’s hard to give different answers.

When it was my turn to ask questions, I had a three basic questions: What would you do with me if you got me? What position would you play me at, ’cause I play multiple positions? How’s the team looking?

Those were the main questions I asked. I think I would have been more specific if the lottery had already happened. If we would’ve already known who had what pick, it would have been crazy.

When the Combine was over, I flew straight from Chicago to New York to attend the Draft lottery.

Real talk, my slot in mock drafts seems to fluctuate more than anyone else’s. I check out for those every once in a while, but there are so many different ones I can’t even keep up with it. It’s so funny, though, because day to day they have me three, then 11, then four, then five, then eight. I’m not even worried, though. I know everybody in the Draft class. I know their games, and I know my game and I’m at peace with that.

After leaving New York, it’s back to L.A. to work out again. Then, I’ll probably have individual team workouts. Look for more on that next diary.

Otherwise, I don’t think I’m going to have a lot of down time this summer. That’s fine, though. My down time is playing basketball. I’d rather be getting better than doing nothing. When I’m doing nothing, I feel unsatisfied. So I’m going to keep working.

I’ll keep checking in with you guys between now and June 26!