ASU hoops can shine next year, provided Carson stays

With an 89-86 loss to Baylor in the second round of the NIT Tournament, the ASU men's basketball team's comeback season came to an end.

A second-round exit in the NIT is not the greatest season for a basketball team. But all is not lost for the ASU men’s basketball program. The Sun Devils actually had a successful season, considering the expectations.

Coach Herb Sendek should be commended for moving this program in the right direction. Following a season which featured a mere 10 wins, Sendek guided ASU to 22 wins this season, including a victory in the first round of the NIT.

The Sun Devils took a giant step forward this season.

Redshirt freshman guard Jahii Carson has changed the face of this program. He’s a big-time player. People across the country should know him. He’s the best player the Sun Devils have had since James Harden.

Finding a star point guard was essential for Sendek. Point guard play was utterly atrocious last season.

Heading into next season, ASU fans should start to feel the momentum build. This team should only get better in the offseason.

In order for the Sun Devils to return to the NCAA Tournament in the near future, however, several things must happen.

ASU must continue the winning culture it created this season. A winning atmosphere will entice more fans to come out to the games. The Sun Devils could use a true home-court edge.

Carson must return to school for at least one more year. He’s a special talent and has a bright future in the NBA, but he still needs to develop.

For example, his outside jumper is still too inconsistent.

Leaving after one year of school would be a mistake for Carson. He can still improve his repertoire. Another year of experience can never hurt.

Carson has the opportunity to further improve his draft status. If he can put his team into next year’s tournament, he will assure himself of being a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. This is ultimately what Carson wants and deserves.

Heading into next season, ASU should be expected to have one of the more experienced teams in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils are only losing one projected starter, Carrick Felix.

UA should be expected to be solid again.

UCLA is taking a huge step back next season, since it's a certainty freshman standout Shabazz Muhammad is heading to the NBA, and the Bruins will suffer because of it.

This is a perfect opportunity for ASU to take over as the second-best team in the Pac-12 South.

The biggest reason the Sun Devils didn’t make it to the Big Dance is their lack of quality wins. Something needs to be done.

Why is ASU scheduling games against Hartford and Arkansas-Pine Bluff? Scheduling these games doesn’t help the Sun Devils; it hurts them.

There’s simply no excuse for the schedule this team continues to play every season. The Sun Devils finished the season with an RPI of 120 in out-of-conference games.

Right now, all fans can do is sit and wait.

There’s no word on Carson yet. ASU’s hope for next season rests squarely on his shoulders. He’s the key to this team getting back to the tournament.

The future is bright for this squad. Next season has the opportunity to be a special one. If Carson returns to school, we may be watching ASU play next year this time.

Patience is very important, especially for ASU sports fans.


Reach the columnist at

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.