Men’s hoops opens Saturday against Central Arkansas

Redshirt freshman guard Jahii Carson is scheduled to make his ASU debut in the Sun Devils’ season opener against Central Arkansas on Saturday. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

The Jahii Carson era will officially begin Saturday when ASU hosts Central Arkansas in its men’s basketball season opener.

The Mesa High alumnus will finally make his debut as a Sun Devil after he was ruled academically ineligible last season.

“I’m chomping at the bit, ready to go out there and get it,” Carson said.

Coach Herb Sendek said he doesn’t know who will start, but he has a pretty good idea who his starting five might be.

“We will get through the rest of this week of practice and make that final determination later in the week,” Sendek said.

Carson is about as sure as it gets to crack the starting lineup Saturday. Sendek however has options on who to play alongside the redshirt freshman guard in the backcourt. Junior guard Evan Gordon would appear to be the frontrunner, but Sendek said he expects senior Chris Colvin to play both guard positions this season.

“Evan is crafty,” senior wing Carrick Felix said. “He has a way for scoring the ball. That’s one thing that we are definitely going to need from him this year is to put the ball back in the bucket, because that’s what he’s good at.”

The frontcourt will likely consist of Felix, sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling and junior center Jordan Bachynski.

Felix has been the vocal leader of this team and wants to play more aggressively this season. While Carson’s dunks have resulted in six-figure hits on YouTube, Felix can get up there as well. He should benefit from the up-tempo style Sendek wants to play this season.

“We are pumped and hyped, but at the same time we’re focused,” Felix said. “We know on Saturday when everything starts up and the season starts, it’s a whole different world. It’s just a change in mindset, so we have to stay focused and continue to get better everyday.”

Gilling and Bachynski look to build off the positives last season. Gilling had an impressive freshman year shooting the ball and will remain as a stretch-forward. Bachynski finished the year strong and could play as big of a role as Carson will toward the team’s success this season.

“I think I’m in a great position to build on that progress (last season) and not go back to the old Jordan, but to the new one you saw last year,” Bachynski said.

Corliss Williamson is in his third season as Central Arkansas’s coach. He was a two-time NCAA All-American at Arkansas, where he helped the Razorbacks win the 1994 National Championship under coach Nolan Richardson. Williamson was named Most Outstanding Player of the 1994 NCAA Final Four.

He now leads a Bears team with three seniors on the roster. Senior forward Jarvis Garner is the team’s leading scorer. Williamson said he has the potential to lead the team in scoring this season.

“At 6-foot-7 he’s shooting it well, can drive to the basket, post up, very versatile,” Williamson said on Central Arkansas’s website. “The thing I like most is that this year, he’s trying to defend better on the perimeter and in the post. He has the ability to rebound the basketball as well, and I think if he continues to dedicate himself to it, he can have a special year for us.”


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