ASU redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson has scored so much the past season and a half, it’s hard for him to keep track of every point.
When he was told he was just 26 points shy of reaching the 1,000-point mark, Carson was taken by surprise.
“I didn’t even know,” Carson said. “It’s exciting to know that I’ve scored that many points in my career. I would like to thank my teammates for giving me the ability to have the freedom and the space to operate, create and score points.”
As Carson is in the second half of his final season, he said he takes time every single day to reflect on his three-year career, including his first season he had to sit out due to academic ineligibility.
“I’ve been with some of these guys for three years, (junior forward) Jon Gilling is one of them. (Senior center) Jordan Bachynski, I was here with him and was in the Valley when he was a freshman. I definitely try to reminisce and reflect on the good times that I’ve had, times with Carrick Felix, Chris Colvin and those guys and those tough battles we went through.
“It’s been a long journey and a great one, so I do reflect every day,” Carson said.
It wasn’t always easy. Carson acknowledged once again he went through a slump at the start of 2014. He said he came to ASU to be praised as a leader and was always prepared for criticism aimed at him whenever his team struggled.
When times do get rough, Carson said he has a good group of people around him that he can turn to for support.
“I just try to talk to anyone I can,” Carson said. “Coach Herb (Sendek), coach Doug Collins when he’s around. My coaching staff has a lot of great players, and they’re great individuals, so I try not to be in this alone. I have a great family, great friends and a great supporting cast, so I just try to get a hold and pick everybody’s brain.”
It’ll be a surprise if Carson doesn’t pass the milestone sometime in this weekend’s pair of games. He’s on pace to reach it against Colorado on Saturday, when ASU hangs Eddie House’s No. 5 jersey up into the Wells Fargo Arena rafters.
It could be a fitting coincidence, as House is the Sun Devils’ leading scorer with 2,044 career points, and he once scored 61 points at California in 2000.
“When you’re in the zone, and when you’re feeling like that, it’s tough (to stop you),” Carson said. “Sixty-one points is (incredible). I had 58 in high school, and that’s in high school. He had 61 against pros. He can fill it up, and I’ve always been a fan of his. He’s been one of my mentors and he can still probably get 61.”
Who did Carson get his 58 points against?
“Brophy, against (now ASU sophomore forward) Sai (Tummala),” Carson said with a laugh.
Sendek addresses supporting cast’s lack of production
The Sun Devils heavily rely on Carson, Bachynski and senior guard Jermaine Marshall. It showed how much one those three’s absences could hurt when Marshall sat out against No. 1 UA on Jan. 16.
Sendek knows the bench stills needs to step up whenever Carson has an off game.
“As much as everyone talks about Jahii, it’s not even fair to single out one individual because I think so many of us can be better,” Sendek said. “We’re all striving for that.”
One player who’s been having his ups and downs is Gilling. He had just four points against the Washington schools in the first weekend of Pac-12 play but dropped a combined 19 points against USC and UCLA the following weekend.
“It’s important for us that (Gilling) plays well and plays consistently,” Sendek said.
Sendek praised redshirt junior guard Bo Barnes for scoring 13 points and playing hard against against UA and noted sophomore center Eric Jacobsen has also made some improvements as well. Sendek isn’t worried about freshman forward Egor Koulechov, whose production has dipped since senior Shaquielle McKissic won back the starting small forward spot.
“I don’t think it’s a function of asserting, rather in fact in some cases, when you’re finding your way, it’s important to fit in,” Sendek said. “We’re not relying on him to create shots and do anything out of the box right now.
That also applies to freshman guards Chance Murray and Calaen Robinson.
“Our freshmen, they’re going to plug in when they can and all of them are getting better, because they have good attitudes and good work ethics,” Sendek said.
Sendek still thinks the supporting cast can turn it around. While the team sometimes has lackadaisical practices, Sendek has praised the other times when his players prepare and work hard.
“The one thing that I like is that our hearts are in the right place,” Sendek said. “When you come to our practices, they’re spirited, they’re energetic, they’re hard-hitting. I think our guys are coming together in a good fashion and now we just have to have that transfer over and play well on Thursday.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion