Learning on the job

Photo by Torrey Purvey

By  Michael Kinney

NORMAN– Antonio Gordon was hoping for a better homecoming. With the stands at Lloyd Noble Center full of family and friends from Lawton, the Eisenhower product was looking to put on a show and help lead his Kansas State squad to pull off an upset against Oklahoma.

However, Gordon could only watch as his Wildcats squandered a double-digit lead and fell 66-61 to the Sooners Saturday in both teams Big 12 Conference opener.

“I feel like we just got to do better at finishing out the end,” Gordon said. “We’re a great team, we know that. It’s just little things that is going to push us over the edge. Once we get better at that I think we’ll be tough to beat.”

Gordon, a true freshman with KSU, didn’t have his best scoring night in his first trip back to his home state. He shot 1 of 9 from the field and scored 3 points to go along with posting 8 rebounds, one steal and a blocked shot.

“I didn’t shoot it very well,” Gordon said. “I know I got some stuff I need to work on. I know I played the hardest I could. I definitely put it out there on the floor. Definitely need to get more shots up.”

Gordon was on the KSU bench during the final minutes of game action after he put up a shot that hit the side of the backboard. He could only watch as his teammates tried to hold on to the game on the road.

That is something Gordon didn’t have to deal with at EHS, where he scored nearly 1,600 points in his prep career, averaging 22.8 points in 70 career games.

Gordon will most likely chalk the entire game up to another learning experience. As he goes from high school standout to DI athlete, he has learned quickly it is definitely a different level.

“What has stood out is definitely the game speed,” Gordon said. “Transitioning from high school to college the game definitely sped up. Dudes got bigger, stronger, faster, so that’s something that’s definitely been a big thing for me. Just the college lifestyle. Being around older dudes, knowing that you got to raise your game to their level. In high school, I was better than most kids my age, so I definitely have to raise my level, because those dudes are smarter as well. They have been playing here for four or five years.”

On the season, Gordon is averaging 6.0 and 4.6 rebounds a game. He’s shooting 41 percent from the field and just 25 percent from behind the arc.

As Gordon gets more acclimated to his surrounds and the college game, those numbers should get better.

“The rest of the freshman season, I just want play my heart out,” Gordon said. “Leave everything on the court like it’s my last game.”

Despite the loss, when the game was over Gordon was all smiles when he walked back onto the court. He was met with hugs and pats on the back from his family.

Gordon said it’s because of them that he’s in this position and doesn’t want to let them down.

“Once I saw myself on the TV for the first time I was like dang, this is what I always dreamed of, and now I’m actually here doing this so I got to make the most of it,” Gordon said. “It was like an eye-opener like I can’t mess this up. It was a blessing from God. Made my mom proud, made my family proud so just got to continue doing it.”

Gordon also knows he has young athletes back home in Lawton watching him and before he left Norman to head back to school, he had a message for them.

“Just keep working hard, nothing’s impossible,” Gordon said. “Don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t do something.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

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