ASU men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek was all smiles when he introduced senior transfer guard Jermaine Marshall to the media on Tuesday.
Marshall arrives from Penn State as the Sun Devils’ best incoming transfer. He averaged 15.3 points per game last season with the Nittany Lions, the sixth highest average in the Big Ten.
Between Marshall and redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson, ASU now boasts a backcourt that put up 33.8 points per games in the 2012-13 season.
Marshall’s biggest game last season was the Nittany Lions upset of Michigan, who eventually advanced to the national championship game. Marshall scored 25 points, hit six three-pointers and grabbed six rebounds in the Feb. 27 win.
Marshall couldn’t travel to China with the rest of the team earlier this month, because he was finishing his degree at Penn State. However, his arrival completes the Sun Devils’ roster for the upcoming season.
Sendek said Marshall was a great scorer in the Big Ten, which is “notorious for being a stingy league when it comes to scoring and excellent defense.”
“We’re really excited that Jermaine is a Sun Devil,” Sendek said. “He’s already proven himself to be an excellent player at the highest level of college basketball. The one thing he has done is consistently put the ball in the basket.”
Marshall listed a number of reasons for transferring to ASU and called it “a tough decision” to leave Penn State. He had originally decided to leave early to play in the NBA but after long talks with his family, he believed it was best to use his last year of eligibility.
He said Tempe is a great city for him and that ASU and its players and coaches created a natural fit for him. The chance to play with Carson was also a huge factor behind Marshall’s decision.
“Jahii was big,” Marshall said. “He’s a great point guard. As a shooting guard, you want to play with a guy that’s already established. He’s great on both ends of the floor.”
Sendek expects Marshall to immediately become one of the team’s leaders as a fifth-year senior.
Marshall had to take over a leadership position at Penn State last season when starting senior point guard Tim Frazier suffered a season-ending injury in November.
But Marshall said it won’t be a hard transition onto the team and that he embraces the role of being a leader.
“The guys made it easy,” Marshall said. “They welcomed me with open arms. Even playing pickup, we talk about a few things and what to do defensively. And what coach Herb said about coming in and being a leader, that’s what I have to do.”
Sendek reflects on China
Sendek had many stories about the team’s 10-day trip to China, including its visit to the Great Wall and noticing China’s immense population of more than one billion people.
But the biggest thing Sendek took out of the trip was seeing how the team handled itself on a long journey to a foreign country.
“Not one time did I hear even the slightest murmur,” Sendek said. “Nobody whined, nobody complained. Obviously when you travel like that, there’s some adversity. … Not one time did I hear one of our guys say one negative thing or roll their eyes, so I was really proud about that.”
Most importantly, Sendek said the trip successfully built team chemistry and allowed the veterans to give the newer players nicknames.
Redshirt freshman guard Calaen Robinson was nicknamed “Spider” for his long frame, while freshman wing Egor Koulechov was dubbed “Drago” (the Russian antagonist in “Rocky IV”). Meanwhile, freshman guard Chance Murray became known as “Biz” for his business-like approach.
Sendek said the trip also helped the freshmen grow as players.
ASU won all three of its exhibition games, and Sendek said everyone, including his newcomers, had a chance to play.
After suffering a concussion prior to the trip, Carson scored 24 points in 24 minutes in one of the team’s games against CBA pro team Fujian SBS.
Even though the trip ended up being an obvious success, Sendek has a simple answer for what he believes the Sun Devils must work on before the season.
“Everything,” he said.
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