Sun Devils in a good place before China trip
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Eddie House walked in and stood at the front of the film room with Arizona State coach Herb Sendek and talked about having his No. 5 jersey hung in the rafters of Wells Fargo Arena during next season.
A few minutes later, Jeff Pendergraph entered the room, so Sendek pulled up a chair so his former player could talk about signing a two-year contract with the San Antonio Spurs.
As Pendergraph wrapped up his portion of informal, coffee-and-doughnuts interview session, a reporter asked Sendek who else he had out there.
"Busy hallway here,'' the coach deadpanned.
Same thing could be said for his team's offseason.
Coming off a solid 22-13 season, Arizona State faced a summer of uncertainty with forward Carrick Felix graduating, face-of-the-program Jahii Carson weighing the NBA and shooting guard Evan Gordon deciding to transfer.
The Sun Devils' fortunes took a huge turn when Carson announced in April that he will return for his sophomore season. They got another big boost last week, when former Penn State guard Jermaine Marshall said he was transferring to Tempe.
With those two in place and a talented group of newcomers on the roster, Arizona State has again stirred up excitement in the Valley of the Sun.
"They're headed in the right direction,'' said House, who played at Arizona State from 1996-2000 before an 11-year NBA career.
It sure seems that way.
Carson was a huge piece of the puzzle.
After sitting out his freshman year due to academic requirements, he vaulted Arizona State into the national spotlight with his quickness, flair and ability to dominate as a 5-foot-10, 175-pound point guard.
Carson, who led Arizona State in points (18.5) and assists (5.1), decided against bolting for the NBA and should be even better this season with a year of experience and added bulk on his frame.
He will likely share the starting backcourt with Marshall, who can play right away as a transfer after graduating from Penn State. He was the Nittany Lions' second-leading scorer at 15.3 points per game and should help the Sun Devils make up for the loss of Gordon, who's headed to Indiana.
But Marshall isn't the only newcomer expected to have a big impact at Arizona State.
The Sun Devils also will be counting on Richie Edwards, a 6-7 forward who sat out last season after transferring from Valparaiso. He was stuck behind two All-Horizon League players at Valpo, but is a good shooter (48 percent) who can shoot from long range.
Arizona State will add 6-foot-5 guard Brandan Kearney, a transfer from Michigan State who will be eligible to play at the start of the Pac-12 season in January. He decided to leave the Spartans last January and gives Arizona State an athletic player who can play off the ball or help create opportunities for teammates.
The Sun Devils also expect Calaen Robinson to contribute.
The 6-foot-2 guard from nearby Corona Del Sol High School was expected to contribute as a freshman last season, but ended up sitting out while dealing with an off-the-court matter. With long arms and good quickness, he could add scoring depth and solid perimeter defense.
Shot-swatting, 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski, sharp-shooting forward Jonathan Gilling and do-a-little-of-everything guard Chris Colvin are all back this season, so the addition of all new players has the Sun Devils aiming for an NCAA tournament berth after falling just short last season.
"There's a lot of optimism and excitement,'' Sendek said. "I'm really looking forward to this group. We do have a lot of new faces, but they're good faces, so we're really looking forward to.''
Sendek will get his first look at how those new faces fit together next month, when the Sun Devils will spend 11 days touring and playing exhibition games in China.
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