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University of Arizona Wildcats' Aaron Gordon (11) takes a shot against Stanford Cardinal's Stefan Nastic (4) in the second half at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Thirteen months removed from his high school graduation, former Archbishop Mitty star Aaron Gordon is about to take part in basketball's version of a cap-and-gown ceremony.

He will be in New York on Thursday night to hear his name called in the NBA draft.

If the pundits are on target, the 6-foot-9 power forward should get chosen before the draft reaches double figures. Most have the 18-year-old going in the Nos. 6 to 8 range.

"I am kind of leaving it up to the unknown," Gordon told this newspaper last weekend. "I am going to go in there with no expectations, no prerequisites or anything like that. I am just going to go and enjoy it and really be in the moment."

Yahoo's mock draft has Gordon going sixth to Boston. USA Today and Fox slotted him eighth to Sacramento. The Los Angeles Times last week had Gordon going seventh to the Lakers.

Given that Gordon grew up idolizing Magic Johnson and once did a grade-school book report on the Lakers legend, he might have a Magic-sized smile if the Lakers take him.

"That would be incredible, man," Gordon said. "But just the fact that I am invited to the green room (on draft night) and get to be recognized in an elite group of individuals, it's going to mean a lot to me. Wherever I go or wherever I end up, I am going to do my best to stay true to who I am and be the best basketball player that I can be."


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Gordon, the Pac-12's freshman of year while playing last season for Arizona, worked out for the Lakers (twice), Utah (twice), Sacramento, Boston and Orlando. Of those teams, Orlando has the highest pick at No. 4.

Most analysts praise Gordon's athleticism but note his shooting struggles, both from midrange and the free-throw line. Gordon shot just 42.2 percent on free throws last season and, according to draftexpress.com, 29.3 percent on jump shots.

"I had been playing at Mitty for four straight years and then to come and go to a different team and a different league, it was me feeling it out," Gordon said. "If I had more time to adjust, you would have seen the same Aaron Gordon. I was a little bit reluctant to shoot, but now there is no reluctancy. When I see the read, I make the read, and that's how my game is going to expand."

Gordon said he has done better in the predraft workouts.

"The consensus is I can shoot the ball a lot better than I have been given credit for," Gordon said. "But that's just in a few workouts, not in a game situation, so we'll see. But I have been working on my shot a lot."

Jabari Brown, an Oakland High product who played the past two seasons at Missouri after transferring from Oregon, is projected to go in the second round. The 6-5 shooting guard averaged 19.9 points per game last season.

Follow Darren Sabedra on Twitter at twitter.com/DarrenSabedra.