After losing most of its players, the ASU men’s basketball team plugged huge roster holes through the transfer portal to bring in talent that can excel offensively and stretch the floor.
The Sun Devils roster thinned out after the 2022-23 season as eight players declared for the transfer portal, two ran out of eligibility and one took his chances in the NBA Draft. ASU coach Bobby Hurley also lost four of his five starters, forcing him to start from scratch in the portal.
Hurley was able to reel in seven transfers and a JUCO addition to swell up his squad with a balanced group of four guards and four forwards.
The Sun Devils’ most promising addition is redshirt junior guard Adam Miller, a two-time transfer who began his career at Illinois before moving to LSU. Down South Miller shot poorly, making 33.6% from the floor and just 31.6% from three-point distance despite averaging 11.5 points per game last season. Junior guard Jamiya Neal said Miller will fit perfectly into the team’s backcourt with him and junior guard Frankie Collins.
“He has been good just because he's experienced,” Neal said. “He's won before so, you know, he can shoot, he can defend and he's a willing passer like me and Frankie. So I think all three of us fit well together because we all are unselfish.”
Yet his chances of playing have been cast into doubt due to NCAA rules. ASU is Miller’s third college, which means he needs an NCAA waiver to be declared eligible this season.
Fellow Tiger and sophomore center Shawn Phillips Jr. also followed his teammate to Tempe. The seven-footer will fill Warren Washington’s shoes as ASU’s tallest player on the roster. Like any big man should, Phillips Jr. uses his height and weight to play physically and fight in the paint for boards.
“Shawn Phillips has been a real difference maker,” Hurley said. “Seven feet with a seven-foot-five wingspan really goes after shots and plays with an edge to him.”
Supporting Phillips Jr. down low, senior forward Zane Meeks from San Francisco transferred to Tempe after two seasons in the bay. Meeks had a breakout season last year for the Dons by averaging 10.3 points per game, third best on the team.
Graduate guard Jose Perez was the final player to be added to ASU’s roster this offseason. He transferred from West Virginia after sitting out the year due to eligibility issues after playing for three other programs. Perez is an exciting shooter who averaged 18.9 points per game in his last full season for Manhattan College in 2021-22.
Rounding out the Sun Devils’ gang of misfits is JUCO transfer junior guard Malachi Davis from Tallahassee Community College. Davis makes the most of his small build as a speedy scoring threat who can push the ball into the paint and finish over taller players. While only playing at the junior college level, he excelled by averaging 17.1 points in only 20.1 minutes per game last season.
Besides offseason additions, ASU welcomes a recruiting class of four-star talents in freshman guard Braelon Green and forward Akil Watson. Green will support Hurley’s backcourt with his versatile play and physicality that helps him finish at the rim over taller opponents. Likewise, Watson can play multiple positions and score at all three levels.
Collins will need to step up and lead the newcomers as one of only three players returning from last year’s roster. He said he’s confident that the team has a host of knockdown shooters who will be able to take clutch high-percentage shots.
“You got Brycen Long, Adam Miller, Kamari Lands, and Malachi Davis, he’s very talented,” Collins said. “So adding those guys just helped space the floor out a lot. Knowing me, I like to get down here and create for others, so you also got me because I’m confident in my shot.”
ASU was in a similar position last year when it retained just two of its top six scorers from the 2021-22 season. The Sun Devils were able to build a strong roster of newcomers last season and reach the NCAA Tournament before falling to TCU in the first round. Reflecting on the similarities between the two rosters, Hurley said that he expects more out of his squad this year.
“I think last year, I might have talked about all the blue chip programs that weren't even good enough to make it to the NCAA tournament,” Hurley said. “So you have to take pride in that but at the same time, we want to try and compete for championships and win games in the NCAA tournament.”
Edited by Alfred Smith III, Sadie Buggle and Angelina Steel