The fourth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Aaron Gordon, shook hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Thursday night, barely a year after walking across the stage at his high school graduation.
Students at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose were rooting for their talented 18-year-old alumnus as he awaited his selection by the Orlando Magic.
"He deserves everything he's got," said Pat Kennedy, who coached Gordon as an assistant at Archbishop Mitty. "He's one of the hardest workers we've had at Mitty. His love for the game is unsurpassed. He's a great teammate."
Gordon, a San Jose native, broke records while attending Archbishop Mitty. Last year, he was tipped by ESPN as the No. 2 forward in the country among 2013 graduates. He also earned honors as the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game.
Expectations were high for Gordon heading into his freshman year at Arizona, and Gordon certainly didn’t disappoint, averaging 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 blocks per game in his only year with the Wildcats.
He joins a Magic front court that already includes 7-footer Nik Vucevic, and will have at a chance to contribute immediately.
Gordon’s collegiate performance earned him First-Team All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors.
He stands 6’9” tall, has a wing-span of 6’11” and a vertical leap of 39 inches. He uses his athleticism to set himself apart from his peers. Well-known for his powerful dunks, Gordon is not afraid to wow the crowd as he did at the NBA Draft, after which a video of his high-flying antics was posted on the NBA Draft’s Twitter page.
“Gordon has an incredible work ethic, humble spirit and desire to give back to his community,” said Hanley, who added that Gordon displays these attributes by maintaining relationships with his former coach, teammates and volunteering at Mitty’s Basketball camps.
The level-headed Gordon knows Bay Area youngsters are looking up to him. He told CSN Bay Area the advice he gives to aspiring athletes: "Set high expectations for yourself, be self-reflective and self-confident at the same time."
Gordon isn't the only notable alum of Mitty's highly rated athletic programs: Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh-Jennings (volleyball) and Brandi Chastain (soccer) are alumni, as is former UCLA Bruins forward Drew Gordon, Aaron's brother, who plays professionally in Italy.
Olympic star Polina Edmunds is an incoming junior at Archbishop Mitty. She showed her support for Gordon when she posted a picture on Facebook of the pair together last year:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.