The ASU men's basketball team is off to a 4-1 start and came one point away from being 5-0 following a 67-66 overtime loss to Texas Southern University. So far, the transfers have provided an on-the-court and off-the-court spark.
Sophomore guard Frankie Collins described the team chemistry as "funny," calling the Cambridge brothers — who both transferred to ASU this year — comedians. Senior guard Devan Cambridge transferred from Auburn and graduate student guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. from the University of Nevada. Both will have big roles on the team as Cambridge Jr. is an additional scoring option and Cambridge starts.
Although the Sun Devils welcomed four new players to its roster this year, chemistry has been fine early in the season because the players are familiar with each other.
Collins raved about the environment around the team and how the group can joke and not take things personally. Team chemistry has been something the players have spoken highly about since before the season began.
Senior center Warren Washington transferred to ASU this past season, having played three seasons at Nevada with Cambridge Jr.. Washington and Cambridge Jr. have immediately impacted the team in their own ways on offense and as the teams' anchors on defense.
Additionally, sophomore forward Marcus Bagley and Collins played on a third-grade AAU basketball team in which Collins said they "won a lot of games." Bagley was also on campus during Collins's recruiting visit at ASU and played a role in Collins's quick decision to decide to transfer to ASU.
Right now, the Sun Devils are gelling, and that is because the players genuinely enjoy playing for each other.
After ASU beat NAU earlier this season, Cambridge said, "We want that Michigan game. You heard it here first, for Frankie," referring to Collins who left Michigan this summer.
When the team met Michigan in the championship of the Legends Classic, the Sun Devils went out and took it with a total team effort. Four Sun Devils reached double figures, but it was their effort on the defensive end as a team that helped slow down the University of Michigan's junior center Hunter Dickinson.
Dickenson scored only 14 points in the game and grabbed five rebounds. It was Cambridge Jr.'s breakout scoring night as a Sun Devil, reaching 20 points to help propel ASU past Michigan.
Sun Devil coach Bobby Hurley spoke about one of the most significant differences between this year's squad and previous ones after defeating NAU on Nov. 10. The Sun Devils had a big second-half lead and, at moments, appeared as if they would let it slip.
But ASU didn’t let it slip, the team cruised to an 84-68 victory.
"It's a different group," Hurley said. "Last year's team, we were in a lot of close games, showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight. Two years ago was deep dysfunction at its finest."
Right now, the Sun Devils have a strong foundation of brotherhood and talent to build upon, and this newfound chemistry can take this team where recent ASU teams have failed to go.
Edited by Kathryn Field, David Rodish and Kristen Apolline Castillo.