This NBA draft will be remarkably different for Aaron Gordon's family. Disappointment in 2012, when Gordon's brother, Drew, never heard his name called during the draft, will likely be replaced with tears of joy on Thursday night, when Aaron is expected to be selected as high as fourth.
"Knowing that Aaron is going to be a lottery pick, it should be a lot better of a day for the Gordon household," said Drew, who went undrafted out of New Mexico. "I'm real excited to be a part of it and enjoy the feeling of having a name called from the Gordon household."
Aaron Gordon averaged 12.4 points and eight rebounds last season as a true freshman for Arizona. The athletic 6-foot-9, 225-pounder had a 39-inch vertical leap at the draft combine. He has been fine-tuning his jumper with basketball trainer Charlie Max Torres, who also trains Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson. Gordon, 18, is receiving consideration from the Orlando Magic (pick No. 4) and is not expected to get past the Sacramento Kings with the eighth selection, sources said.
"If and when I reach my full potential, I think I will be better than everybody [in this draft]," Gordon said. "I think I will have an edge."
Aaron Gordon learned from his brother to do what's best for his future, make smart decisions and not try to appease everyone. Drew's rocky collegiate road included a high-profile signing with UCLA, clashes with then-coach Ben Howland and a transfer to New Mexico after two seasons in Los Angeles.
"It was an unfortunate situation I had to go through," Drew Gordon said. "[Aaron] saw how it affected me as a person. I told him to try to avoid all this and what to look out for when someone is trying to butt heads with you. I think he really took it to heart to avoid all situations that could be very damaging to his parents, his game and his career."
That heartbreaking draft night is a hard memory to shake for the Gordons. The family hosted a party in Drew's honor at a San Jose-area restaurant with many of their closest family and friends. Gordon averaged 13.7 points and 11.1 rebounds with the Lobos as a senior during the 2011-12 season while leading them to the NCAA tournament and a Mountain West Conference championship. The 2012 All-Mountain West Conference first-team selection was projected to be either a late first-round pick or a second-rounder.
But there wasn't much to celebrate as he went unselected through 60 picks.
"It was real tough," Aaron Gordon said. "Like my brother lives vicariously through me, I live vicariously through him. Me and him are one. To see his dream not deflate but prolonged took a lot out of me."
Said Drew: "I honestly try not to look back at that day. It was probably the worst day I ever had in my life. So many dreams were just shattered and killed that night when I wasn't called. I was embarrassed in front of my family, my friends and everyone."
Aaron, his parents, Drew and their sister, Elise, a former Harvard women's basketball player, are all expected to be in Brooklyn for the draft. There will be a draft party for other family and friends back home in Aaron's honor at that same restaurant.
"I wouldn't be surprised if my brother and my dad broke out in tears," Aaron Gordon said. "They are so proud of me. My family's heart is made of gold all the way around."
Drew could be the happiest of them all come draft night.
"Being the older brother, having to set an example and be a role model, I couldn't be more pleased with how he has progressed as a player and individually," Drew Gooden said. "He is one of the brightest kids. People don't know that he's only 18."
Drew Gordon has played on NBA summer league teams with the Dallas Mavericks (2012, Las Vegas), Utah Jazz (2013, Orlando) and Sacramento Kings (2013, Las Vegas) over the past two years. The 6-9, 235-pounder has also played professionally in Serbia, Turkey and Italy. He still has NBA dreams and will play for the Los Angeles Lakers' summer league team this offseason.
And who knows, the Gordon brothers could end up being teammates, too.
"This time around I'm hoping I get picked up and will either be playing with my brother or against him," Drew Gordon said. "That's what my goal is. I hope he gets picked before then, but if he doesn't and he gets picked by the Lakers and I end up on the Lakers, I don't know if there will be another pair of brothers that will work harder than us. "We push each other past our limits. That's what makes us as tight as we are. That would be a dream come true."
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