Randy Pench / rpench@sacbee.com

Aaron Gordon, going up for a reverse dunk against Sheldon on Saturday night, will lead Archbishop Mitty of San Jose against Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the first Open state final.

Gordon likely headed to NBA eventually

Published: Friday, Mar. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2013 - 5:15 pm

The future will arrive Saturday at Sleep Train Arena.

His name is Aaron Gordon, and he looks every bit as dominant as those who came before him, teenagers who used the CIF State Basketball Championships as a launching pad to the NBA.

Gordon is a 6-foot-9 senior McDonald's All-American for Archbishop Mitty High School of San Jose. He can single-handedly turn games and extend seasons. He can handle the ball like a guard and rebounds like a post. He's dominant around the rim on offense and suffocates shooters with his long arms.

Gordon leads the Monarchs into the first Open Division championship game against national power Mater Dei of Santa Ana, a vastly talented team led by 6-8 Stanley Johnson, at 8 p.m.

Gordon could become the first large-school player in Northern California history to win three successive state championships. He's also working on a legacy. Is he the best player in the north state since Jason Kidd of St. Joseph of Alameda in 1992?

"Yes, he's the best since then, and there's been a lot of good players," said Mark Tennis of Cal-Hi Sports.

Kidd was the most prolific passer in the nation in 1992 and the most decorated prep player in state history. His electrifying efforts in the state title game at then-Arco Arena in front of record crowd of 16,000 was a primary reason the CIF kept its title games in NBA arenas.

Gordon knows of Kidd, in his 19th NBA season, and his prep legacy.

"Jason Kidd is an incredible player," said Gordon, who has narrowed his college choices to Arizona, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington. "Just to be even mentioned in the same category with him is an honor and a blessing. If I can get three (titles), that would be great."

Gordon, like Kidd and others, has worked tirelessly on his game to become a complete player. It's difficult to trap Gordon because he can dribble through defenses or pass over them. He's impossible to box out because he can slither around bodies or tip the ball with impeccable timing. He doesn't get in foul trouble often because he defends intelligently. Gordon played a lot of man-to-man defense in Mitty's win over Sheldon in the NorCal Open final last week, holding the Huskies' leading scorer, Darin Johnson, without a field goal in eight attempts.

"We lost to an NBA player," Sheldon senior Dakarai Allen said. "Gordon's a great player."

Said Gordon: "I guard (the opposition's) best player, regardless of what position he is – every game. I know on the high school level, I can guard one through five. I want to be a great player; I want to be the best."

One thing about great players – at any level – is that teammates tend to stare.

"Aaron's amazing, and he's like Michael Jordan in that you just stand and watch," Mitty coach Tim Kennedy said. "I've been spoiled. He's a special kid. It took some time for his teammates to get used to him."

Sacramento-area high school teams have played pre-NBA talent before.

In 1996, 7-foot twins Jason and Jaron Collins led Harvard Westlake past Grant for the state D-III title at Arco. In 1997, Baron Davis of Crossroads in Santa Monica fueled a state D-IV rout of Encina.

In 2008, Klay Thompson set a state title game record with seven three-pointers and scored 37 points to lead Santa Margarita past Sacramento for the D-III title.

Follow on Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD and on podcast: ESPN1320.net

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