After losing nearly 50% of their scoring coming into the 2011-2012 season, the Arizona State Sun Devils struggled mightily to a 10-21 record with only 6 conference wins. In all honesty, the Sun Devils do not look to be much better off this coming season, though they will be able to use Jahii Carson, a redshirt freshman who was declared ineligible by the NCAA last season due to academic issues. The one major plus is that last season’s roster featured exactly zero seniors and as such, this year’s team should have a fair bit more experience.
Herb Sendek managed to throw together a fairly decent class despite the many woes his teams have undergone the past few years. With a pair of 3 star recruits and another 2 star throw on top for flavor, the class of 2012 isn’t terribly much to look at, but the size of the incoming freshmen do make the ASU roster a bit more intimidating on paper. One thing all three freshmen have in common is their Arizona roots.
Kenny Martin 6-9 210lb: A 4-man with some range to him. At 210lbs, Martin was able to throw his body around in the paint at the high school level with ease, while also adding in a dangerous 20 foot shot that made him an absolute nightmare to defend. At the college level, Martin will need to add another 15 to 20lbs of muscle to truly bang in the post. His range will allow more versatility in his game plan should he be matched up against a much bigger 4, such as Shawn Kemp Jr. (once he returns, of course). Martin has some decent post moves, but needs some work to develop his ability to get into the paint from outside the box. All in all, Martin is a solid recruit who should see a few minutes behind the more experienced ASU big men.
Eric Jacobsen 6-10 245lb: I have to admit, I was a tad surprised to see Jacobsen ranked much lower than Martin as a power forward prospect. Jacobsen reads off the paper as a much better forward with a more complete and finished low post game. The biggest difference between the two comes in their work ethics and range, with Martin holding the edge in both categories. Work ethic is not something that often worries me when it comes to high school recruits due to the simple fact that most are able to cruise by on raw talent alone in their high school settings. Sendek should have no problem getting Jacobsen to give 100% each and every game. The combo of Jacobsen and Martin prove a somewhat dangerous duo with their respective skill sets that could combine nicely on the floor together should Sendek opt out of having one of his 7 footers in the middle or perhaps by floating Martin on the outside with Jacobsen closer to the paint.
Caleen Robinson 6-1 180lb: Robinson is a prolific left-handed scorer with range to boot. With the ability to drive the lane, pull up and drop in a mid-range dagger, or stop deep to drain a 3-pointer, Robinson is threat to score at any moment. His scoring is also Robinson’s biggest weakness as he is known to have a poor shot selection once he hits a few shots. Another area for Robinson to focus on this season is his right-hand. Just look at Tony Wroten Jr. to know how important it is for a high major player to have a strong opposite hand near the hoop. Being able to shoot lay-ins with both hands is an absolutely critical skill that every player should possess.
Keala King 6-5 210lb: King left midway through the season due to drama with his coach and general teenage angst that seems to surround many high-level recruits with a diva attitude. King had averaged 13 points, 5 rebounds, and nearly 40% from range before his departure and his guard play was certainly a huge positive for a struggling Sun Devils team. With the King drama behind them, the Sun Devils can move in their hunt for a strong, consistent point guard in Caleen Robinson and Chris Colvin.
Trent Lockett 6-5 210lb: After the departure of King, Lockett continued his strong play finishing with a season average of 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 42% from outside the arc on his way to becoming the clear leader for this ASU team. Unfortunately, Lockett will not return for his senior season as he requested to be released from scholarship to play closer to home in Minnesota near his mother who was recently diagnosed with cancer. No one can blame him for this choice, though the Sun Devils will miss his presence on the court.
Kyle Cain 6-7 210lb: Another transfer from Arizona State’s already thinly populated 2 and 3 depth roster. Cain was the fourth leading scorer with 7.5 pointer per game along with a second best 5.5 rebounds per night. Cain’s 77% free throw shooting led the Sun Devils. With the loss of Cain, King, and Lockett, the Sun Devils face another year of massive scoring deprivation that must be replaced.
Carrick Felix 6-6 197lb: Felix is the leading returning scorer for the Sun Devils with a 10.5 point per game average. Along with his 4 rebounds a night, Felix was and will continue to be a solid contributor to the ASU offense. Beyond the obvious offense skills at his disposal, Felix has also been a solid defensive player averaging about a steal and block per game. While not terribly impressive, Felix uses his size well to contain smaller guards while not giving up much size to lengthier forwards. Felix will be asked to command and lead this team to some sort of success during his senior campaign.
Jordan Bachynski 7-2 250lb: Bachynski has ridiculous length and demands respect in the paint where his size led him to a season average of nearly 1.5 blocks per night. While his defensive skills have come easily due to his size, Bachynski has struggled to produce on the offensive side of things. Often getting shoved out of the paint by stronger centers, such as Aziz N’Diaye, Bachynski needs to work on his positioning and footwork to get more production a night than the 6 points and 4 rebounds he managed last year. Without much experienced and talented guard play returning this next year, Bachynski should be looked at as a guy to really elevate his game for the good of everyone on the squad.
ASU will struggle to mediocrity once more. Jahii Carson should be a very welcome addition to a very thin Sun Devil backcourt. Alongside Colvin and Robinson, ASU depth issues become less imposing. Jonathan Gillings and Carrick Felix will shoulder most of the load at the 2 and 3 slots with Martin filling in as needed. The ASU frontcourt actually looks fairly competent with all the right pieces in place. Their ultimate success comes down to how well the team can execute their mind numbingly slow offense that is down right boring to watch. Jahii Carson came to ASU with the promise from Sendek that the offense would speed up under his direction and it will be interesting to see how players such as Felix and Colvin handle this change of pace, if it even happens. The more likely outcome is that nothing changes offensively and Sendek continues to burn clock all night, ultimately resulting in Carson becoming frustrated and disillusioned with the idea of playing for ASU. The Sun Devils are a bottom of the conference team that should be happy finishing anywhere above 10th place.