Basketball notes: Gordon plays through injury, Johnson leads team

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Tyler Baker and Tyler Baker | The Daily Wildcat Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat Nick Johnson dunks the ball against Augustana on Oct. 28 at the McKale Memorial Center.

Freshman Aaron Gordon has been dealing with a groin injury that forces him to take things slower than he is accustomed to.

Arizona basketball coaches have been taking no chances with their most highly anticipated player this year. They already sat the forward out in the second half of Arizona’s exhibition game against Augustana and at the end of the Wildcats’ secret scrimmage against Saint Mary’s last weekend.

“It’s kind of a nagging groin strain, an injury that’s not all of a sudden going to go away,” said head coach Sean Miller. “What we’re trying to teach him is how to manage it. He’s chomping at the bit, trying to be in every practice and be ready to play, but … giving him an extra day of rest and not letting him practice the entire time is going to help him calm down and be healthy for the long haul.”

Miller said that the injury is not that significant and that Gordon will be fine, especially if he is smart about his recovery. He also said Gordon should be in the starting lineup for Friday’s season opener against Cal Poly, and that he doesn’t expect him to be limited in any way.

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Nick Johnson’s new role

Nick Johnson is taking on a new role this year.

Johnson has led the team vocally in his last two years at Arizona but is looking to further grow as a leader.

“With all of the leadership we lost last year, I want to make up for some of that,” Johnson said. “With two years under my belt and having played in the Sweet 16 now, the grind leading up to the season feels a lot smoother for me.”

Johnson added that he wants to step up this year and help the new players get acclimated to the collegiate level of play.

Zach Peters cleared to play by Arizona staff

Freshman forward Zach Peters is finally at the end of his long road back.

On Tuesday morning, Arizona medical staff announced that the Kansas transfer has been cleared to practice and play with contact effective immediately.

Peters suffered multiple concussions in his time at Kansas and had to be deemed eligible by both the NCAA and Arizona’s medical personnel before being cleared to play in live situations.

Peters enrolled at KU last year but did not play; the NCAA had to approve him to play this year so he didn’t have to sit out the season as is customary for transfers.

“Zach has worked extremely hard and diligently to put himself in the position to be successful here moving forward,” Miller said. “From that perspective, one thing we want to do is not throw too much his way for no other reason than it would just be unfair — not for any precautionary reasons. We hope he has a long career.”

— Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17


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