Redshirt freshman Jahii Carson was excited about the first day of tryouts during his time at Mesa High.
On Tuesday, he took part in his first Media Day as an ASU Sun Devil.
“Media day. Oooooooo how I've waited for you ... ” Carson tweeted before the event.
Last year, Coach Herb Sendek could barely talk about Carson due to federal privacy laws.
Carson did not attend Media Day, as he awaited word from the NCAA on his academic eligibility. He wasn’t even allowed to take the team photo with the team.
“It was just tough for me to miss the basketball season in general,” Carson said. “Whether that’s junior high, high school season, but especially since it’s college season and I slipped up doing something that was kind of dumb on my part. It definitely took a toll on me, but I’m ready to come back and come back strong.”
The NCAA ruled Carson ineligible for the season in December, but it allowed Carson to be with the team and work with the coaches from that point on. He’s worked on his jump shot in the last year and gained nearly 20 pounds on his 5-foot-10-inch frame to check in at 175 pounds.
“This is definitely an exciting thing for me having the media here for all of my teammates and the season coming up,” Carson said. “It’s definitely something I’m excited to see coming around again.”
Carson felt he matured through his ineligibility, and the experience taught him not to take anything for granted. Sendek said he continued to progress in all aspects over the last year.
“To be put in a public light in the way that he was and handle it with the grace, that he did to me, was really impressive,” Sendek said.
Carson has received an enormous amount of attention since high school through his YouTube highlight videos and his active social media accounts. With plenty of pressure on the shoulders of someone that hasn’t played a college basketball game yet, Sendek said his central message to Carson is that he has his back. Sendek said he’s standing with his point guard and wants him to be himself on the court.
“I think the danger is because of the legendary reputation — the fervent interest — there are some of us expecting him to take the court with an ‘S’ on his shirt and (a) cape on his back,” Sendek said. “And that really wouldn’t be fair to him.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t have high expectations for him, for all of our players on the team, but there comes a point where we have to stay on Earth, too.”
Freshman guard Calaen Robinson was not at Media Day due to an off-the-court issue. Robinson is still on the roster, but he might not practice with the team Friday.
The Corona Del Sol High School alum was ranked as the 17th best point guard in last year’s class by ESPN. He was part of a freshman class that highlighted two other local recruits in forwards Eric Jacobsen and Kenny Martin.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org