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Gabe York continues to work towards cementing his legacy in the G League and the NBA

P. Tyler Sinclair /February 23, 2023

An article by P. Tyler Sinclair

Gabe York is having a historic season for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and he believes now more than ever that he is ready to take that next step and join the likes of an NBA roster.

“I've been ready for a while and I'm just going to keep moving forward day by day, one foot in front of the other. I know when the opportunity comes knocking, I’ll be ready,” York asserted.

York gave insight into the trials and tribulations he has gone through from his days at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange County, California all the way to his time in Fort Wayne with the Mad Ants. Adjusting to being in the limelight from a young age, dealing with losing his freedom as a slasher combo-guard in college, the heartache that comes with being overlooked by NBA scouts, York has been through it all.

As a testament to his strong will and perseverant personality, he consistently out works everyone around him and looks for every opportunity to improve himself as a player, but more importantly as a person.

In York’s early days at Orange Lutheran High School, he garnered a lot of attention with his basketball mixtape on Ball Is Life. The video displayed York’s raw talent and dunking ability that he possessed in high school and it went viral attracting, over 1 million viewers. The pressure that mounts with the exposure York gained through this video is something that any person, much less a senior in high school, can struggle with adapting to.

When asked how it felt dealing with this attention York stated “it's a double-edged sword” alluding to the fact that getting exposure is good, but he now knew that accountability for his actions on and off the court could potentially play a role in his career development.

Cementing the idea that York, from a young age, understood the responsibility that professional athletes have; to set a good example for aspiring youth athletes, he shared:

“I think you see ‘oh wow, I'm on camera… I'm on camera every day,’ and you start to feel like now I can't act a certain way. I can’t be very normal. I have to almost put on a persona for the camera.”

Photo by John Nagel/Mad Ants

York promptly followed up that thought with the assurance that although he was adjusting to this new lifestyle of being in the limelight, he never let it affect his thought processes towards the game. York developed his game style and personality throughout his early life and he never let his presence in the media change who he was or what he valued.

Although some might see his dream as larger than life, York sees it from a different perspective:

Because of the raw talent and athletic ability that York had and still has to this day, coming out of high school he was offered an opportunity to play for the University of Arizona. Although York was grateful for this opportunity with Arizona, he felt the way his game was utilized with the Wildcats placed him “in a box” so to speak, as a guard, and left him little room for further development of his skills and athleticism.

“In high school I was a slasher. Get to the paint, dunk on people, floaters, three levels scorer,” York said.

However, through integration onto their roster, York felt Arizona pulled him away from his versatility as a combo guard and forced him to play in a style that better fit the team’s system. York explained that from the perspective of the Wildcats, the main thing they needed from him was someone who could shoot the ball.

“We just want you to be a shooter. We have a lot of guys that can do other things, but we feel like you can be an exceptional shooter,” York said of his interpretation of the Wildcats’ expectations for him.

As a young player looking to find any way into the NBA, York subsided and gave into this less multi-dimensional role of being a shooter, although he did hit over 40 percent of his attempts in college. However, after such a long time of owning this role as a shooter, York explained that he felt he had lost who he was as a player and had started to fade from his roots as a slasher.

“I do that for such a long time that I started to feel like that's who I was. I got away from the crossovers and getting to the paint trying to dunk on people,” York stated.

Photo by Dan Vance/Mad Ants

Over the last couple years, York feels he is playing the best basketball of his career and he finally has regained his slasher mentality and returned to the type of player that he always wanted to be.

“29… 27… it doesn't really matter my age to me. I feel I'm playing the best basketball of my career; I feel like I'm the most useful I've ever been. My bounce has come back. Back in that 40 [inches] range for my [vertical jump],” York emphasized.

York has not only spoke his bounciness back into existence, but he has also shown it off this season on multiple different occasions with many memorable dunks. Included in those were a fast break reverse bounce alley-oop to himself versus the Iowa Wolves in the Memorial Coliseum in December and an alley-oop finish on the road in Las Vegas against the G League Ignite in January. With 31.8% of York’s points this season coming in the paint, it is clear to see that he is back to his roots as a slasher/combo guard.

On April 7, 2022, near the end of the 2021-22 NBA season, York earned himself a call-up to the Indiana Pacers alongside former Mad Ants teammate Nate Hinton. York had the opportunity to take the floor in two games; against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 9 and against the Brooklyn Nets on April 10. In these games, York relished in every single moment, garnering an even greater hunger to consistently play in the NBA after getting a taste of what it really meant.

York continued his point of “being the most useful I have ever been” by explaining how in the summertime, on a regular basis he had the opportunity to work out at the St. Vincent Center in Indianapolis to show off how his skills matched up against NBA talent.

“This summer I got to work out with the Pacers for two and a half months and that solidified the fact that I'm here just as much as every other NBA guy working out.”

York cemented his confidence in his abilities by successfully dueling with NBA players in one-on-one, three-on-three and five-on-five situations in practice. Beyond his ability to compete with these players at a high level, York felt his work ethic and drive on the court was on par, if not above the level of everyone around him.

“I'm putting in just as much work if not more than everyone here, right? And to know that and to feel that, it definitely just kind of catapults you in knowing you deserve better, knowing you want more for yourself,” York stated.

Photo by Zach Hughes/Pacers

York currently ranks fourth in the G League for points per game coming out of the 2023 All Star break, just ahead of teammates Trevelin Queen and Justin Anderson. On January 24, York garnered his third NBA G League Player of the Week award of the 2022-23 G League season, becoming the first player to secure three Player of the Week awards in a single season since Tim Frazier of the Maine Red Claws back in 2015. York has not only been torching G League records, but Mad Ants records also, now holding the franchise records for most 41+ point games in a career (3), Most 35+ point games in a career (11), Most three pointers in a season (155), and Most 3 pointers in a game (9).

All this success also secured York a spot to show off his skills at the NBA G League Next Up Game on February 19 in Salt Lake City as part of NBA All Star weekend. After an absence of G League All Star games, this was the first league showcase of its kind since 2018. After being the first one in the gym for warmups at this game, York contributed eight points, four rebounds and two steals on the way to a 178-162 win for Team Luka (Garza).

As York learned and applied in the early stages of his career, awards, records, and popularity mean little in the grand scheme of your career development if you’re not willing to put in the hard work and dedication that it takes to play in the NBA. York believes that comparing himself to others and getting hung up on stats just holds him back from reaching his full potential.

“It's just a lot of hard work, a lot of effort. Focusing on what I can do and what I have, and not what I don't have and not what someone else has got. That's really helped me kind of kind of shape my mindset and where I'm at.” York said.

As York has evolved throughout his career, he is now at a point where he fully understands his abilities and knows that he is ready to implement those abilities on an NBA roster.

Although York describes every day of his journey as an “uphill battle” and spoke to the fact that “a lot of guys in my class have already quit,” York is far from finished with his career. Despite some of the roadblocks over the years, York has always aspired to the dream of consistently playing in the NBA and feels nothing is going to stop him from going out every day and working his hardest to prove he deserves it more than anyone else around him.

“If you're not fearful of your dreams, maybe the dream is not big enough.”