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Originally published Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 4:21 PM

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Star basketball recruit Aaron Gordon chooses Arizona over Huskies

Aaron Gordon, a 6-foot-8 forward from San Jose, Calif., announced Tuesday he would attend Arizona.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Arizona's loaded front line didn't deter Aaron Gordon from spurning Washington and joining the Wildcats in a move that makes them the prohibitive favorites to win the Pac-12 men's basketball title next season.

The 6-foot-8, 210-pound standout, who announced his decision Tuesday at the McDonald's All-American media day in Chicago, gives Arizona four five-star prospects at forward.

The others are Rondae Jefferson-Hollis, who will play along Gordon in the McDonald's hoops showcase Wednesday, as well as Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley, who both had solid but not spectacular freshman seasons with the Wildcats.

"No matter where he goes, Aaron believes he'll have to fight for his spot," said Tim Kennedy, Gordon's coach at Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose, Calif. "He has that mindset he'll find a way to get on the court.

"He always plays his best when the lights are on the brightest. He doesn't shy away from competition. And this is no different."

Arizona also returns standout freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski, sophomore guard Nick Johnson and seldom-used forward Angelo Chol. The Wildcats welcome T.J. McConnell, who transferred from Duquesne, and four-star shooting guard Elliott Pitts from Concord, Calif.

Flanked by parents Ed Gordon and Shelly Davis at Tuesday's news conference, Gordon wore a blue and red Arizona baseball cap and talked about winning a national title.

Gordon, who averaged 21.6 points, 15.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 blocks as a senior, could be the missing piece to a championship puzzle for Arizona, which advanced to the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 this season.

"It's an absolutely outstanding fit for me," Gordon told The San Jose Mercury News. "A 7-footer (Tarczewski) and two large four men (Jerrett and Ashley). They're long, athletic, get up and down the floor.

"So with three long defensive players on the wings, I think we're going to be a hard team to score on."

Arizona's gain is Washington's loss.

The Huskies invested a considerable amount of time and recruiting resources in Gordon only to strike out once again on a high-profile 2013 prospect.

Washington targeted eight high-school players on ESPN's top 100 recruiting list in 2013 and came away with just one, guard Nigel Williams-Goss.

The misses were Jabari Parker (Duke), Marcus Lee (Kentucky), Jabari Bird (California), Isaac Hamilton (UTEP), Kyle Washington (North Carolina State), Gordon and Pitts.

The Huskies' four-man 2013 recruiting class features Williams-Goss, an All-American point guard who plays at Findlay Prep in Nevada. The others are 6-4 Sacramento shooting guard Darin Johnson, 5-11 Los Angeles point guard Jahmel Taylor and 6-5 shooting guard Mike Anderson, who is transferring from Moberly Area Community College in Missouri.

Washington also adds low-post players Perris Blackwell and Gilles Dierickx, who sat out this season after transferring.

The Huskies have one available scholarship.

Missing out on Gordon might be the least of Washington's problems if junior C.J. Wilcox decides to enter the NBA draft. Without him, the Huskies would lose their top four scorers from a team that finished 18-16. Wilcox's deadline is April 16.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @percyallen

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