Freshman Gordon showing versatility

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Freshman guard Derrick Gordon leads WKU in scoring and is second in rebounding. He’s one of just three freshmen in the conference to be averaging at least 10 points.

Cole Claybourn

It was no secret before he arrived at WKU that freshman guard Derrick Gordon could score.

Through the Toppers’ first 10 games of the season, the freshman from St. Patrick High School in New Jersey is showing that he can do much more than that. 

Gordon scored 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to help WKU to its second straight win of the season, a 62-55 road win against Southern Illinois Wednesday night.

With his efforts he became the first Topper to record a double-double this season.

“I’ll do whatever it takes for us to start winning games,” Gordon told WKU’s Big Red Radio following the game. “That’s rebounding, playing defense, whatever.”

Gordon has arguably been WKU’s most consistent player this season.

He’s the only player on the team who’s started all 10 games and is first on the team in minutes played, averaging 31 a game.

His 10.8 points per game average makes him one of just three Sun Belt freshmen to be averaging in double figures and his 6.0 rebounds per game rank second on the team, only behind freshman forward George Fant’s 6.2 per game average.

Gordon said his rebounding ability is simply a “gift.”

But its caught junior guard Jamal Crook off guard, who’s been impressed by the freshman guard’s rebounding skills.

“At halftime I told him, ‘I wish I had your rebounding ability,’” he quipped. “I was like ‘Boy, you sure know where it’s at and where it be coming off at.’ But hey, 13 rebounds, that’s great.”

But it’s certainly nothing new to Gordon, who’s stressed plenty of times that he takes just as much pride on the defensive end as he does on offense. Eleven of his 13 rebounds came on the defensive end.

To go along with his rebounding efforts, Gordon is second on the team in steals with eight.

He showed that tenacity on Wednesday with a play in the second half where he stole the ball near the sideline, took it coast-to-coast and converted a tough layup in which he had to adjust his body to get around the defender.

He said that play was indicative of a new approach that he took into Wednesday night’s game.

“Coaches just want me to be more aggressive, and the past couple games I haven’t been real aggressive,” he said. “I really showed it tonight — attacking the glass, getting my teammates involved. When I was doing that, it opened up a lot from my teammates.”

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Gordon, though.

With 39 total turnovers, his 3.9 turnovers per game average is tops on the team by more than a turnover per game. He had five on Wednesday night alone.

“I’ve got to limit the turnovers,” he said. “Everything else was good (Wednesday), but I had some key turnovers at the beginning of the game, and in the second half some crucial turnovers. But I’ll limit them as the season goes on.”

That’s natural for a freshman, and Head Coach Ken McDonald has stressed time and again that Gordon is only going to get better.

His efforts, especially on the defensive end, caught McDonald’s eye Wednesday night, particularly Gordon’s ability to win loose balls.

“We’ve got physical guards, and that’s one thing that Derrick is really, really big-time at,” McDonald told the Bowling Green Daily News following the game. “He’s just a big, physical guard, and for a freshman he’s very aggressive.”