Derrick Gordon update

29 08 2010

It was a pretty big summer for Western Kentucky’s lone current commit for the 2011 season, New Jersey two-guard Derrick Gordon.

In what was his final summer of AAU basketball, Gordon’s play vaulted him into the Rivals.com Top 150 for 2011 prior to his final high school season this winter at St. Patrick High School Academy.

I had a chance to speak with Gordon this weekend about how the summer treated him, how much he’s looking forward to his final prep season and how anxious he is to make it official with the Hilltoppers.

“I just went all out with it being my last summer of AAU, I left it out on the court every game,” said Gordon, who said he spent a great deal of time working on his jump shot, ball-handling and overall scoring assertiveness. “I had a lot of chances to work on a lot of things before going out, a lot of  and I really think I was able to show a lot of scouts what I can do.”

Being more assertive with the ball was something Gordon said he really tried to work on, and hopes to continue – because just like last season, Gordon’s prep squad will feature one of the top-ranked high school players in the country.

In 2009-10, Gordon played alongside point guard Kyrie Irving – a Duke signee and a top five player in the 2010 recruiting class. This season, he’ll be on the same squad as Mike Gilchrist – Rivals.com’s No. 3 overall player for 2011 and a current Kentucky commit.

Long story short, Gordon says he’s used to fighting through a rather large shadow in order to prove himself.

“I feel that I’m one of the top guards at my position and one of the top players in the country, I feel I’m one of the most underrated players in the country,” Gordon said. “But it doesn’t matter if I’m No. 1 or wherever I’m ranked, I’m still going to go out there and show people and play the same way.

“I bring the chip on my shoulder every time, and I’ll have it again this year.”

Gordon continues to maintain that the mentality of playing with something to prove makes him a perfect fit at WKU, a school that historically has had top-level success but still fights with a national perception as a mid-major.

“Everybody underestimates Western, but again, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If you’ve got guys on the team that play hard and play well at a school that’s about winning – you’ll be fine. I’m ready to go in there and show (coach Ken McDonald) what I can do and help bring the team to another level.”

Since giving McDonald and company his verbal in 2009, Gordon has turned into an unofficial fan-favorite of WKU basketball supporters without ever actually playing in a game. Something that could be perceived as a double-edged sword due to serious expectations from fans.

But not to Gordon.

“I’m going to be honest, I love attention,” he laughed. “I like being in the spotlight. If a lot of people (have high hopes) for me, it puts a smile on my face. Because that gives me confidence. I’m going to go in there and live up to that hype and show everybody that I can really play.

“(Signing with WKU is going) to be the best feeling in the world. I just want to make my parents proud and also make my uncles and aunts proud by signing. It’s good also because I’ll be able to get it out of the way, that way I don’t have to worry about other schools calling or whatever and I can just worry about what I have to do on and off the court to get better.”

Not only has Gordon become popular with Hilltopper fans over the past two years, but he’s also became sort of an unofficial recruiter as well.

Gordon said that the three WKU recruiting targets he’s spent the most time talking with recently are Warren Central power forward George Fant, George Rogers Clark big man Vinny Zollo and Bellflower, Calif. point guard Cezar Guerrero – Rivals.com’s No. 61 on the Top 150 list for 2011.

Fant has been a top target of WKU since his freshman season at nearby Warren Central, while Gordon said that Zollo and Guerrero both told him recently that they hope to make official visits to WKU in the coming weeks.

“Hopefully we can get them all, and if we can do that, I think we’ll have one of the better classes to come through WKU in a while,” he said.

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