Arizona State coach Herb Sendek is a happy man today. Dan Haller of the Arizona Republic reports that 6’6 senior shooting guard Rihards Kuksiks is back on the ASU campus and will indeed play for the Sun Devils in the upcoming season.
There had been some speculation regarding Kuksiks’ participation for 2010-11, but after a stay in his native Latvia during the summer that included time playing for the national team, Kuksiks has decided to return to Tempe and finish his college career. Known as a streaky long-range shooter (and what three-point bomber isn’t?), Kuksiks has range out to the hash marks when he’s on. He had nine games last season in which he hit at least four threes, including seven against San Francisco on 11/20/09 and eight against UCSB on 12/21/09. He shot 38.3% from beyond the arc last year and is just over 40% for his career. Last season, he and fellow rising senior Ty Abbott both led the Sun Devils in scoring with 12.0 PPG, and he was fifth best in the entire Pac-10 in free throw percentage at 87.5%.
His return to ASU means Sendek gets back not just a senior leader and top scorer, but one with further seasoning over the summer, having helped the Latvian national side qualify for the 2011 European Championships. It also moves ASU back into the top contenders for the crown in the Pac-10, a conference which looks to be only slightly improved from last season’s dull version.