A casual browsing of one’s Twitter timeline typically includes the latest news in politics, sports, music, a plethora of opinions, and of course, memes … things wouldn’t be the same without memes.
But Thursday night was a surprise for the usual NBA fan at UCSB as Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon sent out a tweet that he would be getting some shots up in the Gauchos’ Thunderdome.
I’ll be @UCSBbasketball THUNDER DOME getting shots up tonight. Come by if you wanna see my trainer and I work tonight at 9pm!
— Aaron Gordon (@Double0AG) May 26, 2017
A group of 10-15 students awaited Gordon’s arrival in which he then greeted fans and hoped to have them sit in during his shootaround. But his good deed was prevented from happening as liability concerns during the T-Dome’s after hours prohibited entrance aside from Gordon and his crew.
But fans waiting in the night managed to get something in return as Gordon’s persistent plea to at least let fans in the gym to take photos was permitted prior to him beginning his workout.
Although not in attendance, UCSB men’s basketball Head Coach Joe Pasternack’s presence was still felt as Gordon’s appearance was a reminder of the new coach’s aim to reestablish fun and excitement into the Gaucho program.
“UCSB has shown love. Since I’ve been in Santa Barbara, [I figured] I’d peek through here, come through and get workouts in, they’ve always shown love,” Gordon said. “Now that Joe Pasternack is here, he’s shown love to me since I was on the Oakland Soldiers, playing with Archbishop Mitty [High School]. It’s just good to have a friend out here, he gets us in the gym. I wish I could have got everybody in [the Thunderdome], but you know there’s rules and regulations. It’s good to have Joe here, he’s really going to help the program out a lot.”
During Pasternack’s tenure with the University of Arizona from 2011-2016, Gordon was a “one and done” player for the Wildcats in their 2013-14 season. He is one of many players, including former Wildcat and current Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson who was training in the Thunderdome two weeks ago, that Pasternack played a significant role in when recruiting and developing the two All-American talents.
Entering his fourth NBA season, Gordon is coming off a career year in which he started in 72 of 80 games and recorded a career-high 12.7 points per game.
The former No. 4 pick of the 2014 NBA Draft is focused on the well-being of his body going into next season after a foot injury gave him trouble entering the All-Star break, which was evident in his underwhelming performance in the 2017 Slam Dunk Contest.
“That’s the biggest thing, to get healthy. Find a rhythm, get healthy. As long as I’m healthy, everything ‘s going to be golden. I’ma do what I love to do,” Gordon said.
With many aware of his freakish athleticism, Gordon has his sight set on taking his game further. Speculation as to whether or not he fits best at the small forward or power forward position had been up for debate throughout the majority of the season. No permanent answer has emerged regarding Gordon’s placement, but he flourished throughout the season.
When asked about the area of his game that he is focusing on this offseason, Gordon kept it straightforward – “shooting threes.”
With that being said, he seems to remain motivated to fill the hybrid/stretch role that Orlando is hoping for him to be. If health can work in his favor, anticipating a breakout season for Gordon may not be too far-fetched.