Thursday, May 9, 2013
Who steps up for ASU without Gordon?
By Luke Lapinski
Expectations are higher for Arizona State basketball heading into next season than they've been since the James Harden era. And for good reason. Jahii Carson is back to build off of a remarkable freshman season and is already generating buzz as a potential All-American if he continues on his current trajectory. At the very least, he'll likely be one of the best players in the conference and, as a true point guard, he'll have the ball in his hands more than anyone else in the Sun Devil offense.
With that in mind, things are certainly looking up for the program in Tempe. But the sudden departure of Evan Gordon is a bit of a blow. The younger brother of NBA player Eric Gordon was third on the ASU roster with 10.1 points per game and fourth in minutes played (32.2 per night). He started 25 contests and, more than anything, he was an experienced player that the Devils could lean on for outside shooting. In all, he hit 61 3-pointers as junior -- second only to Jonathan Gilling.
As it turns out, Gilling will be leaned on for even more with Gordon gone. In fact, this leaves Herb Sendek without two starters from the 2012-13 team. Carrick Felix, who graduated and figures to get a look from NBA teams leading up to the draft next month, is the other. Those are some key players heading out the door but, at the same time, ASU's most important weapon is still in place with Carson hanging around. The question now is who steps up to help him put the ball in the hoop. The Sun Devils changed their entire look last season, speeding up the game to make the most of Carson's talents and increasing their points per game by 10 (from 61.0 in 2011-12 to 71.0) in the process.
Gilling will need to be consistent from the outside and Jordan Bachynski may be asked to provide a little more offense up front. Meanwhile, a number of new faces will be working their way in as well. Michigan State transfer Brandan Kearney will be eligible around mid season and the recent acquisition of Sai Tummala should also provide a boost. Freshmen Chance Murray, Egor Koulechov and Calaen Robinson may need to grow up in a hurry to help along the perimeter. In other words, Sendek still has plenty of pieces to work with. It's just a matter of how quickly he can bring it all together.