Reports: Arizona freshman phenom Gordon to enter draft

Aaron Gordon averaged 12.4 points and eight rebounds a game as a freshman for Arizona.

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

Arizona freshman Aaron Gordon will declare for the NBA draft, according to reports.

And ESPN reports, citing unnamed sources, that junior Nick Johnson likely will join him in leaving school early.

Gordon has long been considered a likely one-and-done player. The 6-foot-8 forward, one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school in San Jose, averaged 12.4 points and eight rebounds a game for the Wildcats as a freshman.

He will make his decision public on Tuesday, his mother told the Arizona Daily Star. Gordon is projected as the No. 8 pick in June’s NBA Draft by Draft Express.

Johnson’s decision has been considered less of a certainty, as he is projected as a second-round pick; Draft Express has him going 49th overall. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard, considered Arizona’s leader, averaged a team-best 16.3 points to go along with 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year, a member of the All-Pac-12 first-team defense and a first-team All-American by some outlets.

While the departures of Gordon and Johnson have been braced for given their exceptional seasons, the bigger question for Arizona is who will remain.

ESPN also reported, again citing sources, that possible draft departures Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kaleb Tarczewski have not yet finalized their decisions but are "leaning toward returning."

Hollis-Jefferson, a 6-foot-7 freshman wing, averaged 9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds last season and said after Arizona’s NCAA tournament loss to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight that he would sit down with his family and make a decision. Tarczewski, a 7-foot sophomore center, averaged 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds. Both are considered potential first-round picks if they opt to enter the draft.

If they return — and perhaps even if they don’t — Arizona should be one of the top teams in the country heading into next season. The Wildcats also have sophomore forward Brandon Ashley (who is recovering from a broken foot and has said that he will return), senior point guard T.J. McConnell, junior shooting guard Gabe York and reserve guard Elliott Pitts in addition to a top-three recruiting class.

The incoming class includes McDonald’s All-American Stanley Johnson, a 6-foot-6 forward who is among the top recruits nationally; power forward Craig Victor, also a five-star recruit; and combo guard Kadeem Allen, who on Monday was named the junior college player of the year after averaging 25.9 points, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals for Hutchinson (Kan.) Junior College.

Also on Monday, former Boston College forward Ryan Anderson, a 6-foot-8, 219-pound junior who has one season of eligibility remaining, announced that Arizona is one of three schools he will visit before deciding on where he will transfer.

Anderson, who is from Lakewood, Calif., said on Twitter that he will visit Iowa State on May 2, Indiana on May 5 and Arizona on May 8.

He averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for Boston College last season. Because he has not earned his degree, he must sit out next season as a transfer before becoming eligible in the fall of 2015.