De'Quon Lake will be ASU basketball's top contributor this season

The junior community college transfer has the gifts and the attitude to provide immediate impact

If you've ever watched junior forward De'Quon Lake's highlights from his past two seasons at Iowa Western Community College, you might easily mistake the Reivers' home arena for a high school gym. 

Lake, who nowadays sports Sun Devil maroon and gold, plays his home games in a slightly bigger stadium, far from Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he played his first two seasons of college basketball. 

Although the lights are brighter and the stakes are higher now, his impact has not been any lesser for the Sun Devils. In fact, through two games of non-conference play, Lake has been a cornerstone in ASU's efficient start, including a breezy 24 points and eight boards against Idaho State. 

If he continues his strong play, Lake will be ASU basketball's most valuable weapon this season. 

After losing Obinna Oleka, one of ASU's sole frontcourt contributors last season, Lake, along with redshirt freshman Romello White, has an immediate opportunity to contribute with his abilities to score, rebound and defend.

But what makes Lake a rare breed is his eagerness to learn and develop his skill set as a player and to take his coaches' advice to heart — qualities that paid huge dividends in improving his game while at Council Bluffs. 

"Often today, kids want to know the 'why' before the 'how' to do something," said Michael Johnette, the head coach for Iowa Western Community College basketball and one of Lake's recruiters out of high school. 

Lake is more mild-mannered than a lot of athletes, and his focus stays on improving himself. 

"Unlike a lot of guys, De'Quon doesn't think he has all the answers," Johnette said. "He understood right away that when coaches tell him something, the 'why' was simply to make him and our team better, so he skipped that waste-of-time questioning and got straight to the 'how' you want it done."

Through two games this season, Lake already leads ASU in player efficiency rating, box plus-minus and true shooting percentage. Of course, as that sample size grows, those numbers will start to carry a lot more meaning. 

However, it is clear that Lake has provided an immediate injection of vibrancy and production to a Sun Devils team that struggled mightily last season.

"Athletically, he had the physical tools to be special," Johnette said. "(He has) strength, length, bounce and speed for a large young man." 

But the question was never whether Lake had the talent and tools to succeed. The question was whether he would take his skill and understanding of the game to the next level. 

Lake was always up to the task. 

"He put in more time over the summer than most anyone we have had – that is why I am pleased for where he is in his development and the attention he got in his recruitment, because he earned that right through hours in a gym when no one was watching," Johnette said.

Lake did not just stumble onto an opportunity to play meaningful minutes on a Power Five, Division I basketball team. No one ever does. Instead, his willingness to humble himself and commit to constantly evolving his game made it impossible for head coach Bobby Hurley to turn down Lake. 

It is that same grit that will make Lake ASU's most valuable player this season, and certainly one of its most unexpected. 

Reach the columnist at or follow @jakeuzzi on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

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