ESPN 60 big man Carte'Are Gordon made an early commitment to St. Louis University on Wednesday, providing first-year head coach Travis Ford with his latest, and arguably biggest, recruiting splash. Here's a look at what Gordon will bring to the Billikens.
Why he committed: Gordon picked the Billikens over Kansas and Missouri, although there is almost no denying he would have had his virtual choice of high majors had he played this process out longer. Instead, he opted to stay close to home and join what appears to be a budding powerhouse in the Atlantic 10. The momentum that Ford and his staff have been able to generate on the recruiting trail in recent weeks, with commitments from both ESPN 100 swingman Jordan Goodwin and fellow four-star power forward Hasahn French, certainly opened the door for Gordon to make this pick. Assistant coach Corey Tate was also a factor as Gordon described him as "a close family friend" and "mentor" to ESPN's Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello.
What he brings: Gordon is a wide body in the paint with an efficient floor game. He is rugged inside the paint, thrives at being physical with his midsection to create space, has soft hands and good touch. He provides a true anchor on both ends of the floor. You can play through him in the halfcourt because of his ability to score with his back to the basket, but he can also play pick-and-roll effectively because he sets big screens and is a dumptruck rolling through the lane. He is a high-volume rebounder, intimidating interior defender and has a high motor on both ends.
How he fits: There is a noticeable trend in the players that Ford is bringing in beyond just their talent. All are cut from a similar cloth in terms of their toughness and blue collar approach to the game. Thus we are able to infer something about how future St. Louis teams will look like and it appears to be a little different then what we've seen from Ford's previous stops at Oklahoma State and UMass. Gordon and French are both going to be on the floor from day one of their respective freshman seasons and so St. Louis is likely to play with a more traditional dual post line-up. Gordon is likely to be the true center and French a throwback style power forward. Here's an interior duo that should combine to be as tough defensively and on the glass as anyone. The focus now needs to be on adding perimeter firepower, both in terms of three-point shooting and dribble drivers.
Who he reminds us of: It was just over three months ago when Gordon was helping his MoKan Elite team to the Nike EYBL championship that our own Reggie Rankin drew the comparison between him and a young Derrick Favors on national TV. Like Favors, Gordon is an active and physical big man who imposes his will and immediately changes the complexion of the game on both ends. He may not be quite as tall, and perhaps has a slightly different body type, but his overall approach and productivity are reminiscent of the Utah Jazz big man at an earlier stage in his career.
How the class is shaping up: Ford and his staff were already making waves in the 2017 class with commitments from Goodwin and French. While Gordon is the first player to commit in 2018, he continues some significant trends for the Billikens. The first, and most obvious, is sheer talent. Having a pair of four-star products in the same class is noteworthy for any Atlantic 10 program. But to get a five-star big man, and top ten national prospect, is a truly unique accomplishment. Secondly, the fact that Gordon is a local prospect gives Ford and his staff a major chip to sell on the recruiting trail and continue to build their personalized brand in the Midwest.