The saga of Myron Gordon may be considered unfortunate to some and a wasted opportunity by others. But to the people who count—Gordon, his family, his college coach and Bordentown High coach John Myers—everything is playing out just fine.
Gordon was a standout player for the 2015-16 Scotties team that won Central Jersey Group II before falling to Camden in the state semifinals. His talent was unlimited but his grades kept the recruiters down to exactly one—Harcum College, a junior college in the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
“Some schools were interested, like Cleveland State and some other D-1s,” Gordon said. “But they just couldn’t contact me because of my grades. I really didn’t have a lot of options.”
This is the part of the story where uninformed observers would say “Oh, what a shame, what a waste of talent.”
What they do not know is that Gordon averaged 12.5 points per game as a freshman and this season, as of Feb. 22, was leading the 21-7 Bears in scoring (23.0 ppg), assists (106) and steals 62). He was sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 930 points, needing 70 more to become Harcum’s fifth 1,000-point scorer.
That’s not even the best news.
In the classroom, his grade-point average is floating around 3.0, and he will be playing for a four-year school next season as long as he graduates with a 2.5 or better.
“I’m actually a good student now, I’m paying attention in class,” Gordon said. “I hppe to keep this up and be able to transfer to my next school. Basically it was just understanding that this was a second chance for me. Harcum helped me a lot and helped me mature and get into the mindset that I have to do this, to be where I want to be.”
Exactly. A second chance that he is taking full advantage of. Some guys never do.
Asked if it bothered him that Gordon did not go to a four-year school directly from Bordentown, Myers could not have been more emphatic in his answer.
“Am I disappointed? No,” said Myers, who feels as if Gordon is like a son to him. “(Harcum) coach (Drew) Kelly is a really good man and coach Kelly has really helped him a lot. I think Myron would have struggled at a four-year school where he wasn’t a starter right from the beginning. This really helped him.”
Kelly could not be reached for comment, but Myers has kept close enough tabs on Gordon to accurately assess his progression.
“Part of growth is, you’ve got to figure it out on you own,” the coach said. “I could tell him everything he wants to know, but he has to figure it out. God works in mysterious ways. If he got better grades he would have gotten different (college) looks, but this is the best path for him. He’s going to get his associates degree (in general studies), he’s going to a four-year school (for business) and getting a free ride. Am I disappointed? No. I appreciate his growth.”
Gordon has always shown growth on the court. Since his mom hails from New York City, he often played in summer leagues up there, which are among the toughest in the nation. He also played summer ball for Team 85 in Bordentown.
“Playing in New York helps a lot because it gets me tougher, it gets me ready for the next level,” Gordon said. “I’ve always played in New York, my mom made sure I played there. She knows basketball in New York is way tougher and you get your grittiness from there. I have always been able to play up there and always been able to show that in my game.”
That game suffered slightly during his first few months at Harcum, as he averaged just over 2 points per game in the first half of the season.
“It took me time to adjust,” he said. “Basically the speed and playing for a different coach was an adjustment. Coach Myers, I understood where he was coming from and he understood my best qualities. In college it’s not about that, it’s about getting the team win. It was adjusting to the environment.”
Not to mention, the style of play.
“Coach Kelly wants us to run fast, push it up in transition every chance we get,” Gordon said. “Coach Myers was more laid back and slow. I like to run but I feel like I have a better mindset when I’m playing slow because I can see things better.”
It all started to click in the second half last season, when Gordon averaged 19.5 points to hoist his average over double figures. He also averaged 4 assists and 4 rebounds while playing the one guard.
‘I’m proud that I got everything through my head. I’m on the right track right now.’
Gordon has become a team leader this year and Myers marvels at how his teammates follow his lead during games. He has also improved his shooting and become much stronger, which is allowing him to penetrate and get to the foul line nearly 10 times per game. He is shooting 86.5 percent from the line.
“Everybody improves skill-wise as they get older anyway, with Myron it’s more of a size thing,” Myers said. “He’s gotten bigger, stronger faster and plays such an aggressive game. When you get to the line that much, he needed that strength so he wouldn’t wear down. And not only is the college season long, but they have a shot clock and are getting that many more possessions, so obviously his strength has improved.”
Gordon has worked extensively with the team trainer, be it early in the morning or late at night, depending on his schedule. He has become the team’s go-to guy when a bucket is needed, but added, “I feel anybody on the team can take the shot, it’s just whoever is open. We’re all really good players. I just seem to be having a good year because my teammates get me the ball and run plays for me.”
Harcum is hoping to reach the NJCAA Division I National Tournament this year, after missing by one game last season. The Bears, who have won 20 games for the 10th straight year, fell to Monroe of New York in the playoff final after beating them three times during the season.
“It was hard, but we just we realized we had to work a hundred times harder to beat them four times,” Gordon said.
Had he ever had a tougher loss?
“Camden, definitely,” Gordon said with a laugh.
With the post-season and post-season awards still to come, Kelly feels Gordon may not have even talked to the coach who he might play for next year. Gordon is already considering Utah Valley, North Carolina-Wilmington and Drexel but apparently, other schools will be approaching.
“Coach Kelly believes if Myron keeps doing everything he has done thus far he will probably be a first-team All American,” Myers said. “If he is, the offers will come in. A lot of guys are into their season; there’s not one coach worried about any recruit right now and they’re not allowed to talk to them until after the season. So he basically said wherever Myron will go, he may not have even met the guy yet.”
Myers hopes Gordon will stay close to home; meaning east of Ohio or north of Virginia, so his family will be within striking distance.
“He’s got a wonderful mom and wonderful sister and little brother,” Myers said. “I think it’s important his support staff be able to go there for him.”
While that may be the case, living away from home in the Harcum dorms has allowed Gordon to develop as a person immensely.
“That’s part of Harcum,” he said. “They help me mature and realize I need to mature if I want to get to the next level. Living away from home was kind of hard at first but I got used to it.”
Once he started focusing on academics, he got used to enjoying learning as well.
“Most definitely,” Gordon said. “I feel like it’s what I needed to do. Harcum is a great place to learn, the environment is great, the teachers are great. They’re definitely helping to get it in my head that it’s a good thing to be smart and get good grades.”
Hearing Gordon speak that way is a beautiful thing for Myers, who battled with his star over grades constantly in high school.
“I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Myron,” the coach said. “He was as unique a basketball player as you’ll ever see in high school. He certainly has matured both physically, and has become one really good young man.”
And while Gordon has some slight regrets about taking so long to understand the importance of good grades, he feels certain everything is working out as it should.
“I’m very proud of myself,” he said. “I feel like I could have done this a long time ago and gone to my four year school. But I’m proud that I got everything through my head. I’m on the right track right now.”