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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats might have Nick Johnson clone in freshman guard

Turki Allugman
Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat Gabe York, No 1, at UA basketball media day on Oct. 10, 2012

Gabe York’s skillset looks eerily familiar.

If what the latest addition to the Arizona men’s basketball team backcourt says is true, he might as well be called Nick Johnson: The sequel.

York believes he’s an exact replica of Johnson, the Wildcats fourth highest scorer last season, particularly because of their similar size and athleticism. But their similarities extend beyond the basketball court.

“We’re literally the same person,” York said. “I mean we both like to have fun; we both literally are the exact same person.

“We laugh at the same jokes. It sounds a little weird, but we both like the same things. And then obviously on the court, he’s athletic, he’s a big athletic guard. And I’m almost just as tall as he is and I’m just as athletic. We pretty much are the same person.”

Johnson didn’t take the exact same route when describing York, but he said he’s already built a close relationship with the highly touted freshman.

“I’ve kind of took him under my wing,” Johnson said. “I look at him as a little brother, kind of, and try and teach him some of the things I did wrong, so he can have a good season.”

And the similarity between the two is — as York put it — weird.

Johnson’s overall high school stats are slightly higher than York’s, though. Since Johnson came to Tucson as a five-star recruit and York as a four-star, it makes sense.

In their senior seasons, Johnson averaged 1.7 more rebounds a game and 2.0 more assists per game and his school had a better record than York’s. But that’s where the differences stop and the comparisons begin.

Both players had nearly identical points per game average — 24.8 ppg for Johnson, 24.9 ppg for York.

Just five pounds separated the two guards coming into college and Johnson is listed as just an inch taller.

Both are known for freakish leaping ability, and despite playing high school basketball in different states — California and Nevada — they were separated by just 250 miles.

But their many similarities do have a practical benefit, as their friendship off the court produced a rivalry on the court, and York said it’s helped make him a more competitive player.

“Off the court we’ll be friends, [but] on the court we’re sort of like enemies,” York added.

Johnson, who is competing for the starting spot at shooting guard with senior Kevin Parrom, said he wants York to go all out when they battle in practice.

“I want him, every time we go on the court, to try to take my spot,” Johnson said. “And I’ve told him that before. It’s not any hurt feelings or anything, that’s just life. That’s just the game that we play.”

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