Key Losses: G Jason Braxton (5.4 ppg, 3.6 apg), F/C Ike Diogu (22.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg), G Steve Moore (12.2 ppg, 2.3 apg)
Postseason: NIT Lost to UNLV 89-78 in the first round
Mississauga, ON/Trinity Valley (TX) CC
San Paulo, Brazil/College of Southern Idaho
Scottsdale, AZ/Transfer from UC-Davis
San Bernardino, CA/Winchendon (MA) School
Seay, a 6-foot-9 native of San Bernardino, Calif., who spent last season at Winchendon School in Massachusetts, will likely slide right into the starting lineup. Atuahene is already being called the second best Canadian guard in Arizona -- next to the Suns' Steve Nash. Pendergraph is considered a good scorer, but he will have to meet Evans' stringent defensive requirements. Claudino is a physical forward but was troubled by injures in junior college. Goldstein transferred to ASU after just one semester at UC-Davis. He will be eligible at the conclusion of the fall semester.
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Ike Diogu agonized for weeks over whether to leave Arizona State for the NBA. Diogu is gone. But the agony figures to stick around.
Barring some major surprises in the wake of Diogu's departure, the Sun Devils and their coach, Rob Evans, face a season loaded with tough questions.
Above all, Evans is on the hot seat and his job appears to be on the line.
The Suns Devils went two straight seasons without an NCAA tournament appearance despite the dominance of Diogu, last season's Pac-10 Player of the Year and the No. 9 overall pick of the Golden State Warriors in June's NBA Draft.
Evans' future was shoved to the back burner when athletic director Gene Smith moved to Ohio State. But the pressure is back on.
In June, negotiations stalled on a two-year extension to Evans' contract, which currently runs through the 2006-07 season. The ASU administration has balked at guaranteeing any part of the extension. Evans' attorney, Dennis Coleman, suggested the school was one step away from firing him. Despite the uncertainty of the situation, Evans remains hopeful.
"The book is never closed," he says.
Only a stellar recruiting class, some maturation from a couple of returning starters and a surprising 2005-06 season can keep it open.
Serge Angounou, Diogu's old roommate, is the key to the Devils' frontcourt. The 6-foot-8 forward has been trying to make a complete comeback from a knee injury suffered in a 2002 exhibition game. He showed great promise during the early portion of the season, as ASU rolled out to an 11-1 start, but he struggled with fatigue during Pac-10 play.
Returning forward Allen Morill is not much of a scorer, but he provides some toughness and leadership, which could be pivotal with Diogu gone.
Craig Austin is a possibility at center. The 6-10 Austin averaged just 1.0 point per game as a freshman, but showed he knew how to play the game. With last year's experience as a foundation, he might be able to make a more significant contribution this season.
The wild card in the frontcourt is Sylvester Seay, who spent last year at a prep school in Massachusetts. Glowing scouting reports precede Seay's arrival at ASU. If they're accurate, ASU coaches are hopeful he can step into Diogu's spot at power forward.
Kevin Kruger, the son of UNLV coach Lon Kruger, plays with the smarts of a kid who grew up in basketball family. Evans will need all of that savvy and more. The question is whether Evans will start Kruger, now a junior, or continue to use him primarily as a sixth man. Though he started just 11 games, Kruger ranked second to Diogu in minutes played (29.8) and averaged 11.0 points and 3.4 assists.
The decision whether to start Kruger hinges on three players -- shooting guard Bryson Krueger, playmaker Tyrone Jackson and newcomer Antwi Atuahene.
Krueger returns as a projected starter. He's got great range on his jumper, but his defensive liabilities last year frustrated Sun Devil coaches and often led to an early seat on the bench.
Jackson was seen as a possible solution to ASU's long-running problems at the point, but he only showed flashes of ability last season.
Atuahene, a top-rated prospect from Toronto, arrives at ASU from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas. He is capable of playing either backcourt position.
On paper, at least, Arizona State is facing a difficult season. After exhibiting great promise in Diogu's freshman campaign, they struggled the next two seasons -- yet did enough for Evans to keep his job.
In order to remain the Sun Devils' coach for an eighth season, Evans will likely need to lead ASU on an improbable run to the NCAA tournament. While Angounou and Kruger could ride to Evans' rescue, a search for a new coach appears more likely than a postseason tournament appearance next spring.