We continue to take our look through Pac-12 basketball next season. We've already taken you through the wasteland of Utah basketball, which should at least find a palm tree to shade themselves under for parts of the season. Next up is Arizona State, who might want to be fighting for that little spot in the desert.
Departing: Starting shooting guard Trent Lockett, backup guard Keala King, wings Kyle Cain and Chanse Creekmur (who both saw starting duty).
Arriving: Evan Gordon (shooting guard transfer from Liberty), Bo Barnes (guard from Hawaii), and three 3* freshmen--SG Calaen Robinson, PF Kenny Martin and C Eric Jacobsen,
Arizona State is probably more in danger of being Utah than Utah is. Their best junior, gone. Three of their four sophomores, gone. Their best freshman was academically ineligible last season and will have to inherit a leadership role very early on in his college team. Barring a huge season from Jahii Carson, Herb Sendek's boys will be wreck-worthy next season.
In essence, ASU will have five players returning with playing experience, and at the very most ten scholarships on their roster. Carson will have to revive a team that was in the bottom five in the country in taking care of the basketball ($).
Barnes and Gordon should be able to plug in and shoot the ball, but it's not likely they'll be much better than Cain, Creekmur or Lockett, meaning they will be in a constant struggle to improve the offense. Jonathan Gilling is the best at creating offense, and his three point shot will be relied heavily upon next season. Backup point Chris Colvin will probably put up a few triple-double games this year (in points, assists, and turnovers, that is). Carrick Felix is a one-tune player, catch-and-shoot (make him do anything else and you're in good shape). ASU does have a good presence in the paint, as 7-2 Jordan Bachynski is a strong rebounder and blocker (although he's limited on offense to putbacks and dunks). 7-0 Ruslan Pateev is less adept; he turns the ball over almost twice as much as he shoots it.
If ASU is to have any success, it all depends on Carson. If he can be an efficient ball-handler and distribute touches properly, he can make the Sun Devils a half-decent team. He'll definitely make life easier for Colvin, who can work off the ball at the two and handle backup point responsibilities. I'd say it takes him a year to acclimate to the college game before he's ready to lead Arizona State back to winning ways.
Utah should get better. ASU could get worse, possibly stay the same, or get a little better. And they shall fight for last.
awbutler: Herb Sendek's eternal hunt to find the next James Harden will be going through the insane, wee-man leaper Carson.
IN LIMBO: Sendek's contract was extended amidst another tumultuous Tempe season. Now old pal Lisa Love (the AD who gave him two additional years) is gone and I have to imagine the seat is warming.