NCAA: AZ State Sun Devils Basketball Preview
No team in the Pac-12 will have a more drastic roster turnover than the Arizona State Sun Devils for the 2014-2015 college basketball season. The Sun Devils lost Jahii Carson, to the NBA draft, seniors Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall to graduation, and Egor Koulechov, who transferred to Rice. Those four players accounted for over 64% of this team’s scoring last season. With seven newcomers, we don’t know what to make of this season’s Arizona State basketball team.
We do know that Coach Herb Sendek will need to find someone who will take over the offensive push for his team in order for them to be competitive this season. Shaquielle McKissic and Jonathan Gilling do return, and both will be called upon to be leaders; both in scoring and overall team leadership. ASU brought in highly-recruited junior college transfers Gerry Blakes, Roosevelt Scott and third-team Juco All-American, Willie Atwood, to provide help. Blakes comes to Arizona State from San Bernardino Valley College with first team All-Foothill Conference and first team All-California honors. Blakes, a guard, posted 1,052 points and 200 assists in his two seasons in Juco basketball. Atwood will likely be a key piece as a dominant athletic forward, and should be able to provide rebounding. Scott will play the swing position and will bring a lot of active energy. Eric Jacobsen and Cameron Gilbert are both 6’ 10’ and have the size for defense, blocked shots and rebounding.
If Coach Sendek can bring all of these new players together quickly, and the players adapt to his “up-tempo” offense, McKissic improves his jump shot, and, as the old cliché goes, they make their free throws, this team might be able to scratch together a .500 season in the Pac-12 and end the season with 18 or more wins.
The Sun Devils made it into the NCAA Tournament last season for the first time since 2009, but we should not expect a return appearance and look instead for an NIT selection and using this season as something this program can build on in the future.
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