Arizona State Week: Six Newcomers Give Roster A New LookPosted by AMurawa on June 13th, 2012
For a team looking to remake itself after two down seasons, there couldn’t be a better time for the program to welcome in six new faces, especially when three of those guys (Division I transfers Bo Barnes and Evan Gordon, and academically ineligible point guard Jahii Carson) were able to practice with the team during last season. Barnes and Gordon also come with the benefit of having previous D-I experience, including some serious run at their previous stops. Alongside those three players, Herb Sendek also gains the services of three incoming freshmen. Below we’ll take a look at these six new players and gauge what type of impact they could have and what type of role they might play in their first years in Tempe.
Jahii Carson, Freshman, Point Guard, 5’11” 160lbs, Mesa High School, Phoenix, AZ – It’s been two years since Derek Glasser graduated from ASU, and in the interim, Sendek and staff have had to man the point guard spot by patchwork. Now with Carson’s eligibility, there is little doubt who the man is at the lead guard spot. “It is always in a program’s best interests to decide (roles and playing time) once practice starts,” noted Sendek, “but at the same time, it is widely recognized that Jahii is a terrific talent and there is tremendous excitement around him being able to play next year.” That special talent includes tremendous speed in the open court, a great handle, tremendous court vision and the ability, even while clocking in at below six-feet, to throw down spectacular dunks in traffic. In fact, Carson’s playmaking ability in uptempo situations even has Sendek committed to upping the pace. “I think the expectation is that we’ll play as fast as anyone in our conference, given the change in our personal,” he confirmed. While that type of statement needs to be seen to be completely believed, Carson, for one, is completely on board. “I think that the tempo that Coach is looking to play at, all of our players can thrive in that system,” said Carson. That may well be true, but he’ll need to be the engine that drives that car in order for that change to work out.
Evan Gordon, Junior, Shooting Guard, 6’3” 200 lbs, Liberty University – Gordon, the younger brother of Eric Gordon, the former Indiana star and current NBA player, played two seasons at Liberty, leading the Flames in scoring (14.4 PPG) his sophomore season. He plays off the ball, but has a good handle for a two-guard, and is at his best as a scorer, slashing to the basket and setting up those drives with a solid three-point shot (34.4% in his college career). One concern about his first two seasons was the drastic drop in his shooting percentages as a sophomore when he became the team’s go-to player. While he’ll likely not be expected to fill the same role at ASU, he will be required to provide the team with some offensive punch, and may even get a chance to back up Carson at the point. And, with the team looking to push the pace a bit more in the open court, he could be a good weapon running the wing on a fast break. He should be ready to step in from day one and play a big role for the Sun Devils.
Bo Barnes, Sophomore, Shooting Guard, 6’4” 190 lbs, University of Hawai’i – While Gordon will play the role of the slasher, Barnes’ reputation is that of the marksman. He averaged 23 minutes per game in his lone season in Hawai’i, and more than 80% of his field goal attempts came from behind the three-point arc hitting 38.8% of those shots. That high percentage of three-point attempts gives you something of an idea of what to expect from him: he’s an excellent catch-and-shoot guy, but he’s also very capable of running off of screens and finding an open spot in transition. With Carson and Gordon specializing in penetration, Barnes and sophomore Jonathan Gilling could be the beneficiaries of open looks off of kick-outs from their teammates.
Calaen Robinson, Freshman, Combo Guard, 6’2” 170 lbs, Corona Del Sol High School, Chandler, AZ – Robinson led his high school program to a 32-1 record last season on the way to the Division I state championship, and did so in a manner that hints at a future as a floor general. Rather than dominating the ball and scoring in bunches, Robinson got his teammates involved, played tough defense, and only looked to score when he had openings, never forcing the issue. Those types of traits will serve him well at the next level where he won’t be “the man”. As a freshman, he should have no problem fitting in with backcourt mates like Carson, Gordon, Barnes, and even senior Chris Colvin. Robinson is used to playing the point from high school, but he has the tools to play off the ball as well. He’s a good shooter from range, can create off the dribble and score either from the midrange or taking it all the way to the hoop. For a Sun Devil team that had some trouble putting the ball in the basket last year, Robinson could fit a major need.
Kenny Martin, Freshman, Forward, 6’9”, 210 lbs, Kellis High School, Glendale, AZ – Martin is a versatile prospect for the future at ASU. At 6’9”, he’s got the frame and athleticism to battle inside against high-major caliber opponents, but he can also step outside and hit the three – a classic stretch-four in the making. He had a big performance at last year’s Pangos Sweet 16 tournament. He still needs to bulk up and get stronger to be a real force on the interior in the Pac-12, but he could step in and provide some spot minutes as a freshman due to ASU’s lack of a true power forward among the returning players.
Eric Jacobsen, Freshman, Power Forward, 6’9” 215 lbs, Hamilton High School, Chandler, AZ – Much like classmate Kenny Martin, Jacobsen is a versatile big man whose best days may be ahead of him. Jacobsen is big and has plenty of room on his frame to add bulk, but also features a nice midrange jumper, good passing skills out of the high post and is a solid interior defender. He was a first-team All-Arizona Division I player as a senior (according to The Arizona Republic), and could find himself in a battle for minutes with Martin.