Four years ago, Ty Abbott, James Harden, Jamelle McMillan, Kraidon Woods and Rihards Kuksiks became Herb Sendek’s first full recruiting class at ASU.
Harden has since moved on to the NBA and Woods has transferred to North Texas, but the three that stuck with the program are about to take the floor at Wells Fargo Arena for the final time as the Oregon schools come to town.
“Those guys have really made a great investment in our basketball program,” Sendek said. “Hopefully we’ll have their best home weekend coming up.”
Despite this year’s struggles, McMillan, Abbott and Kuksiks have won 78 games in their careers at ASU, good for the sixth most during a four-year stretch in program history.
Only one Sun Devil, Gary Jackson, has won 79 games in his career. With two wins this weekend, the trio could exit as the winningest players in school history.
“I’m proud of our senior class,” McMillan said. “We stuck through it and made it.”
The three seniors have been close friends from day one. They can joke around with each other, are super competitive with each other, but do it in a friendly way.
A prime example is McMillan’s first impressions of Abbott and how he fired back.
“Ty was really weird when I first met him.” McMillan said. “He’s always dancing, always making fun of people for no reason. His music interests are strange, he likes weird food. Just a different guy. He knocks down threes, so we’ll accept him.”
After McMillan has the opening statement, Abbott had the rebuttal.
“He’s a loner,” Abbott said. “He never wanted to do anything with everybody. We’d walk into his room and it was him and Rik [Kuksiks] and James [Harden] and Kraidon [Woods] were on the other side. [We] would go do something together and he’d just sit on his computer. If he wants to call me weird for wanting to be social, then go ahead.”
Abbott then took it to another level and reveled one of McMillan’s interesting hobbies: candle making.
“He makes them,” Abbott said. “He ordered this kit. I was over there about a week ago. I’m telling you the kid is weird. He has this candle kit that you make your own wax and put your own fragrances in, like chocolate, vanilla. All kinds of stuff.”
Kuksiks got to chime in on his fellow seniors, but true to his form, he kept it short and sweet and brutally honest.
“They are both weird,” Kuksiks said.
Don’t be confused, it is all in good fun. The three are a close-knit group.
“They are like family,” Abbott said. “It is literally like brothers. With Jamelle and Rik, we’ve seen the ups and the downs. The guys you go to are the guys that have been there the entire time and have been through the same struggles and hard practices. That’s who you go to and confide in when things are rough.”
Now the three will take the home court together for the final time.
Their senior season wasn’t anywhere near where they wanted it to be.
This weekend they will play for pride, for the fans, to etch themselves into the record books and most importantly, for themselves.
“I don’t think you can find better teammates in America,” McMillan said. “That’s what is really going to be hard, putting on the uniform for the last time with those two guys. That’s a tough deal.”
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