Arizona State Week: Running Down the ReturneesPosted by AMurawa on June 12th, 2012
Five different players who earned significant playing time in 2011-12 return for Arizona State. While the two players that averaged more than 13 points per game (Keala King and Trent Lockett) are not among them, the Sun Devils return a solid foundation upon which to build their 2012-13 campaign. Below we’ll take a look at those five players, in order of last season’s scoring average.
- Carrick Felix, Senior, Wing (10.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG) – Felix was a bastion of consistency in one area last season: Of the 29 games that he played in, he played 30+ minutes in 21 of them. Aside from that, however, Felix was up and down most of the year. He certainly had his moments in scoring over 20 four different times, but also had four games in particular where he was borderline invisible, scoring two or fewer points in losses to Fresno State, UCLA, Stanford and Colorado. Still, Felix’s second season in Tempe was a clear improvement over his first. His minutes more than doubled, his efficiency numbers went up a bit, his jumper showed significant improvement, and he showed an ability to influence a game defensively without fouling. All indications are that his senior season could be even better. According to teammate Jordan Bachynski, “He was good last year, but he’s even better now – more athletic, better shot, just an all-around better player.” Throw in the fact that Felix is the type of open-floor athlete who could really stand to benefit from a playmaking point guard like Jahii Carson and he could be an impact player on the wing for the Sun Devils.
- Jonathan Gilling, Sophomore, Small Forward (7.1 PPG, 1.7 APG, 41.1 3P%) – Gilling’s first season in the desert did not exactly get out to a booming start, as he scored just 12 points in ASU’s first eight games. In his first nine games, he averaged just nine minutes per contest but once the calendar turned and conference play came around, he stepped into a much bigger role, averaging nine points per game the rest of the way. The highlight was 21 points on five-of-six shooting from three in a 87-80 victory over Arizona that was without question the apex of a relatively dismal year. All told, Gilling wound up as the most efficient offensive player on the Sun Devils, in large part due to his dead-eye from deep, but his offensive skills go beyond just the three-ball. “He really is versatile,” said head coach Herb Sendek. “Not only is he a great shooter, but I really love the way he passes. He has a tremendous feel for the game and really makes his teammates better with his playmaking ability.” With a year of experience under his belt, and hopefully sometime in the weight room, the young Dane should be ready to have an even bigger impact as a sophomore.
- Chris Colvin, Senior, Point Guard (7.0 PPG, 4.0 APG) – At the start of last season, when it became apparent that Jahii Carson’s eligibility issues were going to cause him to miss at least some games, word out of the Sun Devil camp was that they felt comfortable riding Colvin at the point while waiting for Carson. But, after averaging just a hair under four turnovers a game coupled with a 33.3% eFG in his first six starts, the Sun Devils were forced to go in a different direction with the doomed Keala King point guard experiment. Colvin’s confidence dipped from there, leading to a stretch in which he did not hit a field goal for a span of over a month (although, to be fair, he only played 63 minutes in those nine games), while turning it over 10 times. After earning a two-game suspension from Sendek for “unacceptable conduct,” though, Colvin stuck with it and played much better, especially during a stretch when leading scorer Trent Lockett was out with an ankle injury. “He really stepped up,” said Sendek, “in particular in two of our end-of-season wins against USC and Arizona, he played outstanding basketball. Hopefully now with a year under his belt in our program, he’ll build on that.” With Carson expected to step right into the point guard spot, and with incoming transfers Evan Gordon and Bo Barnes ready to compete for minutes at the two, Colvin will have to earn his minutes. And that starts, first and foremost with cutting down turnovers. Colvin showed an ability as a junior to create opportunities for his teammates, handing out assists on more than 34% of his teammates’ buckets (good for 40th in the nation), but seemingly just as often created opportunities for the opposition, turning it over on almost 33% of all possessions. That first number is outstanding, but unless he seriously cuts backs on his mistakes, he may be little more than a bit player as a senior.
- Jordan Bachynski, Junior, Center (6.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG) – Much like Gilling and Colvin, Bachynski was nothing to write home about in the early going last season. He averaged seven points per game in his first three contests, but then went almost two months without scoring more than six points in a single game. But after he came out of his shell against Utah on January 21, he was a whole different player the rest of the way. Over the course of ASU’s last 13 games, he scored in double figures in eight of them, registered the first double-double of his college career in the Sun Devils’ second contest with Utah, and displayed a confidence and court presence that had been lacking until that point. Over that stretch, he shot almost 65% from the field, blocked an average of two shots a night and, perhaps most importantly, hit 65% of his free throws after hitting just 35.3% in the first 18 games. Bachynski, who didn’t play basketball for three straight years because of an injury in his senior year of high school and a two-year mission, appears to be rounding into quite a basketball player. “I hate to say this, because I’ve used this line a lot, but taking a couple years off of basketball is hard to come back from,” he said. “But, I feel like because of my patience, because of the coaches’ patience with me, and because of my work ethic, I was able to make some breakthroughs last year.” At 7’2” with surprisingly good athleticism and footwork for his size, he definitely has the skills to build upon his strong finish and put together an even better junior campaign.
- Ruslan Pateev, Senior, Center (4.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG) – Three seasons ago as a freshman, the 7’0″ Muscovite showed promise in limited minutes, displaying a yen for working on the offensive glass, blocking shots, and scoring inside. But, since then as his minutes have inched up, weaknesses in his game have become more apparent. While big and rugged, he doesn’t have great footwork, his hands are a liability, and he’s not the fleetest of foot in the open court. He does as solid job as a reserve big man securing defensive rebounds, but there’s not much hope that he develops into much of an offensive threat and, in fact, his propensity for turning the ball over (he had nine games last season with three or more turnovers, despite limited minutes and relatively limited touches) can make him a liability at times. If as a senior he can do a better job taking care of the ball and focus on playing the role of a rough defender and rebounder, he’ll be an asset. Otherwise, he could be in danger of losing minutes to a pair of freshman bigs.