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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona basketball freshman York will fight for playing time

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Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat

It’s not often that a four-star recruit and the 65th overall prospect, according to ESPN.com, gets overlooked, but that’s the reality for Arizona’s Gabe York.

The 6-foot-2 freshman brings a natural gift of athleticism to the Wildcats, but compared to the three towering players who highlight the Wildcats’ latest recruits, York is just an afterthought.

“It’s always been that way, even in high school,” said York, who averaged 24.9 points per game at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif. “I’ve always been under the radar … I’m here to work hard, I’m here to honor the process and I’m here to make my teammates better while they make me better.”

With head coach Sean Miller bringing in his second-straight top five recruiting class according to Scout.com, York has been pushed to the back of peoples’ minds as the front court players — Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski — garner most of the attention.

The three freshmen were all ranked in ESPN’s top 20 and will immediately contribute to the Wildcats’ previously thin frontline, while York will have to fight for playing time. Miller cited the backcourt as the most experienced on the roster, but said he wouldn’t be surprised if York made an impact this season.

“[York] is working really hard,” Miller said. “He is getting better… If Gabe continues to work like he’s working and fights, he is very talented. … He is what we call an everyday guy. Just roll your sleeves up and work as hard as you can every day to learn and become better, and eventually he will contribute.”

York said he’s embracing the blue-collar, workman mentality, and that it’s one of the reasons he chose Arizona.

“I think if it would have been really easy for me to get a spot, I wouldn’t be the player I am right now,” York said.

One of the guys sitting ahead of York on the depth chart is sophomore Nick Johnson, who resembles York in both playing style and build. Johnson had an easier road to minutes last year and made the most of it, playing 28.1 minutes a game with 8.9 points per game on 36.9 percent shooting.

“[York’s] one of the best scorers coming out of high school,” Johnson said.

Johnson added that even with York’s impressive statistics in high school — 24.9 points per game at Orange Lutheran High School in Calif. — York is still a humble kid who works hard every day.

“I’ve always been a fighter,” York said.

In the Wildcats’ only real action so far this preseason — two exhibition games in the Bahamas — York combined to go 4-for-12 shooting in two games with 12 points in 22 minutes.

The fact that senior Mark Lyons transferred to Arizona from Xavier over the offseason, becoming a makeshift fifth scholarship recruit, log-jammed the backcourt even more. Jordin Mayes and Kevin Parrom are the two other players considered ahead of York on the guard depth chart.

“It’s a lot harder to try and be able to play this year,” York said. “But I know what my goals are and having to fight every day just to get some playing time is what it’s going to have to take.”

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