ASU Basketball: ‘All-in’: Luguentz Dort officially declares for NBA Draft

While he “didn’t expect to be a one-and-done,” ASU basketball guard Luguentz Dort became the first Sun Devil freshman to declare for the draft on Tuesday.

It wasn’t James Harden, Eddie House or Byron Scott. It wasn’t a consensus five-recruit, a common prerequisite for decisions like these.

Arizona State likely sent off its first one-and-done athlete on Tuesday afternoon. His name was Luguentz Dort, a physically-gifted, defensive-minded gem that Bobby Hurley stole from the mountain ranges of Quebec.

Even Dort — whose plan is to “be all-in” the NBA Draft process — initially didn’t see it coming.

“When I first got to ASU, I didn’t expect to be a one-and-done,” he told ESPN. “But all the help I had from my teammates, my coaches and the people around here, I feel like they helped me grow as a player and a person. And I had a better season than I thought I would have.”

Dort announced the decision via his Instagram page, stating his intentions to sign with an agent.

When Dort first arrived in Tempe, the community marveled at his stature. At 6-feet-4 inches tall and 215 pounds, it was easy to mistake him as one of Herm Edwards’ defensive backs.

“We got to get him out in the spring,” Edwards joked in November.

Dort would soon make himself known on the hardwood. In his first five games, he averaged 23 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals, earning NCAA National Player of the Week honors after leading the Sun Devils to the MGM Resorts Main Event championship in Las Vegas.

As expected, Dort’s strength carried him through. He earned much attention, becoming the “favorite player” of Stadium reporter Jeff Goodman, and was a projected NBA lottery choice just months after arriving in the United States.

That alone would make today’s announcement expected.

But through that success, there was concern. Dort was still 19 years old. And soon enough, his youth showed.

In a nine-game span from December to mid-January, Dort averaged 11.9 points per game on a woeful 33 percent shooting. While his defense was stingy, his struggles came with decision-making, often driving to the rim with tunnel vision and disrupting ASU’s flow with poorly-timed shots.

That slump took Dort out of the starting lineup for the only time this season — ASU’s second conference matchup with Colorado. While gifted, he still had a lot to learn.

That, incidentally, is what made today’s announcement more credible. As unready as Dort might be, the NBA is welcoming to projects like him.

Gone are the days of four-year college stars become the game’s best players (no offense, Buddy Hield). With an emphasis on potential and growth, there is a reason why Dort is still a projected first-round pick in several mock drafts.

At the end of the season, he proved he his work ethic. He shot 43 percent from 3-point range in a seven-game stretch from February 13 to March 9, and he committed one or fewer turnovers in three of the Sun Devils’ last five games. These are the improvements he would like to show in the pre-draft process, according to ESPN.

But that doesn’t guarantee it will work out. As promising as Dort is, he will require patience. His play style can be erratic, triggering screams of ‘No, no, no!’ when moments like these occur.

If Dort doesn’t turn his weaknesses into capabilities, he could end up like other Pac-12 prospects (Kobi Simmons, Grant Jerrett, Tyler Dorsey) that are either out of the league or have a limited role.

The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and a member of the all-conference Defensive Team, Dort has the skills to take him to the next level. In what was likely his lone season at ASU, he averaged 16.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals.

With today’s announcement, Dort made history, as he did throughout the season. But did he make the correct decision? Only time, and the right situation, will tell.

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.