After a disappointing 2021-22 campaign in which the Sun Devils ended the season with a 14-17 record and a first-round loss in the Pac-12 tournament, coach Bobby Hurley's team is retooled and in a position to compete for an NCAA Tournament appearance this upcoming season. Here are five new Sun Devils to know ahead of ASU's season opener against Tarleton on Nov. 7.
After an up-and-down freshman year at Michigan, the 6-foot-1-inch sophomore guard is poised to be the next name on a long list of transfer guards who have made a significant impact at "Guard U."
Last year, after averaging only 11 minutes per game through the regular season and Big Ten tournament for a Michigan team stacked with guard depth, Frankie Collins shined when the lights were brightest. With the Wolverines’ starting point guard DeVante' Jones in concussion protocols, Collins earned his first collegiate starts in Michigan's first two NCAA Tournament games.
Collins' spark led the No. 11 seed Michigan to the Sweet 16, highlighted by a 14-point, six rebounds and two assist performance in Michigan's opening round game against the sixth seed Colorado State.
Through two practices open to the media, Collins is among the roster's most vocal players on both ends.
His ability to quickly develop a leadership role has translated to on-court connections with other key players on the Sun Devils roster. At a media availability last week, Collins specifically cited sophomore Marcus Bagley as a player with whom he has developed a solid on-court partnership.
“Dudes like Marcus, I just find him," Collins said. "It doesn’t matter where he is on the floor. I just find him."
If not a starter, Collins will surely be a staple in Hurley's rotation to begin this upcoming season. Perhaps the Sun Devils' best true point guard, he will be essential to ASU exceeding expectations and reaching their ceiling this year.
"Frankie coming in has definitely been a good addition for our backcourt," junior guard DJ Horne said. "He's an all-around point guard. I'm going to love playing alongside him this year."
After gaining Pac-12 experience in the 2018-19 season as a freshman coming off the bench at center for Oregon State, Warren Washington transferred to Nevada, where he started 46 of his 48 games. He averaged just over 10 points per game through two seasons with the Wolfpack.
During his stint at Nevada, the 7-footer showed steady improvement as a rim protector. As a junior, Washington elevated to 1.2 blocks per game, doubling his block rate from the previous year.
Now a senior, Washington's extensive college basketball experience might propel him into the role of ASU’s starting center to begin the upcoming season. Hurley indicated that Washington has made a strong impression so far this offseason.
"Warren Washington has been a presence around the basket, with his length and shot blocking, and with his finishing above the rim," Hurley said.
Starter or not, Washington's impact on the Sun Devils this season will not be limited to his two-way presence underneath — he may also serve as a mentor for the returning Enoch Boakye, whose play style mirrors that of Washington's game at Nevada.
After a standout career at Wagner High School in San Antonio, Texas that included a nomination to the McDonald's All-American team, true freshman, and 55th-ranked recruit in the country, Austin Nunez chose ASU over offers from powerhouses like Baylor, Oregon, and Virginia, among others. The 6-foot-2-inch guard's volume scoring put him on the map at Wagner, where he averaged 28.1 points per game his senior year.
A common theme of ASU's first media availability last week was Hurley's presence helping to consistently bring dynamic guards into the program, which many still refer to as "Guard U." Based on Nunez’s tweet announcing his commitment to ASU, he shares that sentiment:
Known for getting scorching hot from behind the arc, the athletic lefty has learned to use the space his sharpshooting creates to find driving lanes to the basket. A strong at-rim finisher for his size, scoring should not be a concern for Nunez.
Nunez may find it challenging to carve out a consistent spot in the Sun Devils' rotation this upcoming season due to their experience and depth at guard. His key to playing time this season will likely be his reliability as an outside shooter.
Duke Brennan and Malcolm Flaggs
Hailing from Hillcrest Prep, these two high school teammates will give the Sun Devils wing depth in their first year at ASU.
Duke Brennan's 6-foot-10-inch, 235-pound frame will give the Sun Devils an additional depth piece in the frontcourt. He has the athleticism and body control to play forward, making him an intriguing option to play alongside a center against opponents with size.
He also has the motor to provide the Sun Devils with intangible, off-the-stat-sheet production.
"Duke is a hard-hat, lunch pail type guy," Hurley said upon his commitment. "He really will battle and rebound and defend. He plays hard. He plays with an edge."
Malcolm Flaggs, a 6-foot-6-inch jumbo guard who can handle the ball and shoot, also has the size and skills to provide ASU with depth this year. In high school, he used his size to attack smaller guards and has flashed the ability to create his own shot on offense.
Hurley is undoubtedly excited at the prospect of coaching the two local standouts.
"Getting those two guys signed in the program, it was a good day for the Sun Devils," Hurley said.
Your first chance to see Sun Devil men's basketball in action is this weekend's MoonLIT Madness event at the Sun Devil Track at 9:45 p.m. on Friday, October 21.
Edited by Walker Smith, David Rodish and Grace Copperthite.