DaJuan Gordon might be the most talented freshman that Bruce Weber has coached during his eight years at Kansas State.
Gordon might also be the hardest-working freshman to wear a Wildcats uniform since Barry Brown.
Put those two traits together, and it’s easy to see why everyone associated with K-State men’s basketball is buzzing about the immediate impact their new 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Chicago could make in his debut college season.
“Barry Brown was very, very motivated when he got here and got after it every day. DaJuan has got that same mold,” Weber said Wednesday at K-State’s media day. “He loves it. He texts me in the middle of the night. What about this? He sends me videos from practice. What should I have done here ... He is driven.”
Time will tell exactly if Gordon starts or comes off the bench for the Wildcats this season, but the preseason projections are optimistic. Weber envisions Gordon playing close to 25 minutes per game.
Gordon averaged 17.6 and 7.9 rebounds on his way to receiving city player of the year honors from the Chicago Sun Times. He was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and earned an invitation to participate in the training camp for USA Basketball as the team prepared for the U-19 World Cup last summer.
He can handle the ball, shoot from the perimeter, defend and throw down put-back dunks in practice.
“He is in here working to get better at all times,” junior guard Mike McGuirl said. “He cares about basketball more than just about anyone I have ever met. Seeing his passion towards the game, it is inspiring for a young player. You don’t see it much. Freshmen are in the gym for a week and their body wears out, but he is fighting through it. He is giving it his all and he is getting after it.”
Everything hasn’t come easy for Gordon since he arrived on campus. The game moves much faster than it did at the high school level, and he has been beaten for some highlight dunks, because he is always demanding to guard K-State’s best scorers like Xavier Sneed and Cartier Diarra in practice.
Gordon also says he is turning the ball over too much. But he’s working hard to correct those mistakes before the season arrives.
“When my day gets done and I’m done with school I try not to take naps,” Gordon said. “I try to come in here and get treatment if I need it or to get some shots up and be around the guys and just build relationships.”
Gordon also likes to hit the weight room, and that’s a big reason why he has gained about 10 pounds already as a college freshman.
That extra work is already showing up on the stat sheet. Weber said he is currently leading the team with a three-point percentage of around 50.
“I am leading the team in some stats,” Gordon said. “I called me people back home and told them about that. Not all the stats, but I am the most consistent player. My numbers are good.”