The Jahii Carson show isn’t leaving town after all.
Many college basketball pundits had assumed the talented Arizona State point guard would forego another year on the hardwood of Wells Fargo Arena for an early shot at stardom in the NBA.
Carson turned the tables on conventional wisdom by declaring his return to ASU for his sophomore season on Tuesday night.
At a raucous press conference attended by media, students and season ticket holders, Carson said, “I think we know a little bit more about what it takes to be successful. We won’t take anything for granted—just build off the positive energy we had this year.”
He added, “I just think the best thing for me to do is to continue to try to build a legacy here and be the best Sun Devil I can be.”
Carson attracted national attention after an exceptional freshman season in Tempe. He finished as the Pac-12′s second-leading scorer, averaging 18.5 points, shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 32 percent from three-point range. He also averaged 5.1 assists and racked up 3.7 rebounds. The 5-foot-10 standout from Mesa High was named a first-team all-conference selection and earned honors as co-Freshman of the Year.
Carson’s decision to return to ASU makes sense for a number of reasons:
• Most agree that Carson has a bright future at the next level. Some NBA draft projections had him as a likely pick in the late first or early second round. With another year of experience under his belt, Carson could boost his stock in the eyes of professional scouts.
• Carson demonstrated exceptional ball handling skills and leadership abilities during his debut campaign in Tempe. However, his position also requires a refined outside game. Carson has worked hard to improve his jump shot and free throw shooting, and another year in the competitive Pac-12 will only help his cause.
• Carson will be among the conference’s elite players next season—possibly an All-America candidate. This notoriety will undoubtedly enhance his long-term career prospects.
Carson was forthright about his immediate goals during Tuesday’s announcement. “A player knows what he needs to work on,” he said. “I want to try and capitalize on the small things. Making free throws, a consistent jump shot, penetrating and kicking more—just trying to get my teammates involved more.”
ASU Coach Herb Sendek will benefit greatly from the return of his star point guard for 2013/2014. The Sun Devils, who finished with a 22-13 record last season, face a rebuilding job after the departure of Carrick Felix, Ruslan Pateev and Chris Colvin. But the crop of current starters will help make the team a possible contender for the conference title.
Sendek said, “One thing that guys have typically done in our program is get better and as he (Carson) follows that same trajectory, I’m really excited about the possibilities.”