ASU junior transfer guard Alonzo Verge Jr. looks up to NBA stars Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose more than any other basketball players. But the player that many of his teammates liken him to is someone that Verge had trouble recalling.
"The Sixth Man of the Year," Verge said. "... I forgot his name. Somebody on the Clippers. What's his name?"
"Yeah," Verge said. "They say I play like Lou Will."
Verge indeed does play a similar role for ASU, as he can provide a scoring boost off the bench for the Sun Devils in the same way Williams does for the Clippers.
Initially, Verge had some difficulty adjusting to Division I basketball upon arriving at ASU after transferring out of Moberly Area Community College. He only averaged 6.4 points per game on an inefficient 25% shooting in his first five games in Tempe.
"It was a big adjustment," Verge said. "The style of the game and the pace of play is different. The level of competition is obviously different too. There's a lot of adjustments you have to make, with bigger and more physical people you're playing against."
But Verge broke out of his early slump to give consistent scoring production off the bench, leaning on the facilities and resources made available by the team.
Perhaps the most notable example came at the end of the ASU-UA rivalry match, when Verge made the game-winning layup in the final seconds to clinch a Sun Devil victory.
"The play was supposed to be for Rob (Edwards). Remy (Martin) attacked the basket, he gave it to Rob," Verge said. "Rob didn't have anything, and he trusted me, so he gave me the ball. Jalen Graham, I think it was, set the screen. The defender thought I was gonna come off the screen, and then I see the open lane."
In a December game against Saint Mary's, Verge dropped 43 points, the fourth most a Sun Devil has ever scored in a single game.
In a recent victory over UCLA, Verge led all players in scoring with 26 points on 10-16 shooting and 3-3 from beyond the arc.
The highlight from that night was a stretch where Verge scored on three consecutive ASU possessions, two of those coming within 23 seconds, where he scored on a fast break, stole the ball on UCLA's next possession and scored again.
"I was just locked in. I stayed in the moment," Verge said after the game. "I was worried about the next task. If I made the layup, I was worried about getting back on defense. I knew that I was in a rhythm, but I was just having fun. That's all."
Verge's ability to come off the bench and make the impact that he does has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.
"Zo plays a lot," junior forward Khalid Thomas said. "And to see guys come off the bench like that and get going, that gets me going and I think that gets everyone hyped."
That was exemplified in the Sun Devils' victory over Washington, where Verge came off the bench and scored 18 points shooting 88% from the field while grabbing five rebounds and two assists.
Redshirt junior forward Romello White noted how Verge struggled to adapt to Division I basketball. But he knew the guard would break out saying, "He just had to get a feel for the game. But once he got a feel for it, he's been doing great."
And no matter what happens, Verge will stay motivated and prepared to come off the bench to compete for ASU.
"I'm always ready. I know coach is going to put me in the game," Verge said. "I'm always ready, I'm always prepared. I just stay in the moment and lock in."