We are in the thick of the one-and-done era in college basketball and the Arizona Wildcats have seen the positives and negatives of it with special players like Aaron Gordon and Stanley Johnson coming and going just as you get to know them.
All while this era has transpired over the course of the last four seasons in Tucson, the forgotten one has consistently been Gabe York. It could have been a product of his flashes but inconsistent play over a three year span or simply because of having figures like Nick Johnson, T.J. McConnell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson along with the aforementioned one-and-done’s who all happen to be big personalities.
The demeanor York has had now through four games in 2015-16 however been truly a joy to watch, especially when you take into consideration the mental battle he has faced during his college tenure.
York arrived in Tucson as one of the the most prolific scorers in Southern California out if Lutheran High School. But since coming to Arizona, everything has seemingly been an uphill battle for him. He was the “least heralded” in his recruiting class which included Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczweski and since he did not get a ton of playing time as a freshman and then again as a sophomore, there was constantly the rumors and talks of him transferring.
I think if he would have transferred, Wildcat faithful might not have blamed him seeing as since arriving at Arizona, Sean Miller brought in players like Stanley Johnson, Elliot Pitts, Allonzo Trier, Ray Smith, Justin Simon who are all scorers at the wing position. York could have easily gone to another program and become the primary ball handler and have the freedom and time of possession with the ball to be able to be the player many thought he would be out of high school.
But instead, he stayed loyal, he stayed hungry and has continued to improve every year while staying where it all began for him at this level. In this day-in-age where you see players transferring to two, three or maybe even four high schools and or club teams before getting to college and then if things don’t go perfectly once in college, they transfer again, York has stayed put and allowed the process to work itself out.
We are now seeing the fruits of that labor. While all the talk in the offseason was of Tarczewski coming back for his senior season, Kadeem Allen and Ryan Anderson making their first appearances after sitting out last season plus this great freshman class, there was little talk of York and what he means to this team this season.
That stops now.
Through four games, York has been the consistent scoring, the consistent energy, the consistent passion for this team that has very different look from what we’ve seen the last few seasons. Not better or worse different, just different. York leads the team in scoring at 16 a game and is shooting a blistering 51.2 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three. He’s diving on the floor, blocking shots and showing a personality and a confidence on the floor that we frankly have not seen from him. He is playing like a senior and being the leader that this team desperately needed with so many new pieces in the fold and after losing a leader of the caliber of T.J. McConnell.
While Ryan Anderson has played an important role thus far and his value was never more evident when he was not able to play Sunday against Northwestern State, Gabe York through four games has been this team’s MVP. When you combine that notion with what he has worked through since arriving in Tucson, he deserves the thunderous ovation that the McKale Center is capable of each time he steps foot on that court.