The Arizona State men’s basketball team, led by point guard Jahii Carson, surprised some people with their success on the court a season ago. Despite missing out on the national tournament, the Sun Devils did get a post-season victory in the National Invitational Tournament against the University of Detroit at the end of last season. The team has lost some key players for the new year, but hopes remain high this season.
For the second year in a row, the Sun Devils are considered to be a sleeper out of the Pac-12, largely because of Sophomore Jahii Carson and Senior center Jordan Bachynski. To become that dark horse in the conference, however, they will have to make up for two key losses. Carrick Felix, who was the heart and soul of the team last season, was lost to graduation and drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Evan Gordon on the other hand, decided to transfer away from ASU taking his 10.1 points per game to the Indiana Hoosiers.
The Sun Devils hope the roles of those lost players will be filled with some newcomers to the team. Firstly, Arizona State was able to lure guard Jermaine Marshall away from Penn State for his senior season. Marshall averaged 15.3 points and 1.5 steals per game for the Nittany Lions last year. He will likely see a lot of playing time alongside Carson this season.
Another transfer, but one who didn’t get much attention, was Shaquielle McKissic from Edmonds Community College in Washington state. McKissic’s road to Tempe has been full of hardships, but fans who attended ASU’s Maroon and Gold game earlier this month are very excited about the junior forward. McKissic had 33 points in the scrimmage game, with many of those points coming in highlight reel fashion. If Shaquielle was an unknown before, he certainly isn’t any longer and fans will be looking for him to contribute this season.
A community college transfer the ASU coaches — and Herb Sendek in particular — seem to be excited about is forward Sai Tummala, a local product out of Brophy Prep who spent his first season of college basketball playing at Salt Lake City Community College.
Of course, the story of the Sun Devils this season will always revolve around Jahii Carson. He is the player who has been getting the most national recognition from major news outlets, and who could take this team to the national tournament. The off-season has been filled with hype for Carson: he’s been called the fastest player in the nation and has been very high up on national player rankings. Carson did not practice with the Sun Devils when they began pre-season work-outs, but he has since returned to the court and is expected to be 100 percent by the opening game.
Arizona State will be facing three teams in non-conference action that made appearances in the national tournament a season ago before starting conference play. The Devils will make the trip to Las Vegas on November 19 to face off with the UNLV Rebels. They will then host Marquette at Wells Fargo Arena on November 25, and also play Creighton for the second straight season on November 28 as part of the Wooden Legacy tournament. ASU will begin conference play at home on January 2, against the Washington Huskies.
The 2013-2014 Arizona State men’s basketball season begins at Wells Fargo Arena on November 8 as the Sun Devils meet the Retrievers from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
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