#144 Arizona State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Arizona State Sun Devils

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #144
Conference Rank: #11 Pac-12

Arizona State Team Page#144 Arizona State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Arizona State Basketball Tickets

Arizona State made it to the NIT last year, where they beat Connecticut before falling to top-seeded Richmond. But that was not enough for Herb Sendek to keep his job. The Sun Devils went out and made a splashy hire by picking up Coach Bobby Hurley. Coach Hurley spent just two years at Buffalo, compiling an overall record of 49-20. Those were impressive seasons, but there is still a lot to prove and it is a risky hire for Arizona State. For now, Arizona State will rely on Savon Goodman. Goodman sat out the first semester last season after transferring in from UNLV, but made an immediate impact once he was eligible. On the year he totaled five double-doubles in just 25 games. Expect many more in 2015-2016.

2014-15 Record: 18-16, 9-9
2014-15 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Bobby Hurley
Coach Record: 0-0 at Arizona State, 42-20 overall

Who’s Out:
The Sun Devils lose their leading scorer in Shaquielle McKissic. The 6-5 forward averaged 12.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He could do it all from the wing and helped keep the team in the top half of the Pac-12 in the rebounding department. McKissic was also pretty consistent with his three-point shot. The next best shooters on the team, Bo Barnes and Jonathan Gilling, are also gone. Barnes averaged 6.9 points per game during his senior season, while Gilling added 5.6. Gilling was a tough match-up with his ability to shoot with his 6-8 frame. The ability to stretch out the defense like that is something this group may lack. Roosevelt Scott and Chance Murray are the other two departures and they averaged about ten minutes per game each.

Who’s In:
Arizona State needs some depth, especially in the frontcourt, and a trio of junior college transfers should be able to provide it. Obinna Oleka, a 6-7, 240 pounder, is the biggest of the bunch. He is a solid athlete and will be asked to provide depth up front from day one. Size is needed on the wing now too since McKissic is gone and that is where Maurice O’Field comes into the picture. He spent one year at Midland Junior College and is an amazing athlete. He can finish with authority and will be a contributor in the rebounding department as well. However, the best of the junior college transfers is Andre Spight. He is a very good all-around scorer and the one player who can replace the perimeter shooting lost with McKissic and Barnes.

Who to Watch:
Despite the departures and the need for the newcomers to provide depth, Coach Hurley does return six players who started at least seven games a year ago. Eric Jacobsen will join Goodman in the frontcourt. The 6-10 senior started to turn into a scoring threat last season instead of just being a defensive presence in the paint. He ended up averaging 8.3 points and 5.9 rebounds. Jacobsen is not the type of player who is going to explode for 20 or more points very often, nor will Arizona State ask him to do so, but he is a steady post player. Willie Atwood, a 6-8 senior will provide much of the frontcourt depth along with Oleka. This may not be the most exciting frontcourt in the Pac-12, but Goodman still has his best days ahead of him and there should be enough bodies for Coach Hurley to remain competitive.

Final Projection:
The frontcourt may keep ASU competitive, but the backcourt needs to knock down shots to win games. Point guard Tra Holder had a great freshman campaign, averaging 7.0 points and 3.6 assists, but he has yet to prove that he can hit many outside shots. Gerry Blakes is far and away the most prolific shooter back on the roster. He knocked down 39 three-pointers during his first season with the Sun Devils after transferring in from the junior college ranks. The problem is he shot just 30.2 percent from long range and 40.5 percent from the floor. If Blakes is indeed going to be the team’s most dangerous shooting threat, his numbers better improve. Kodi Justice is a potential shooter if he returns to top form following a foot injury that cut his freshman season short. It remains to be seen if his limited action last year gave him enough time to develop his game. Overall, the backcourt has the potential to be quite dangerous if the pieces all fit together. Even if they do, a trip to the NCAA Tournament is asking too much, but a postseason berth of some sort is a good way to start the Coach Hurley era.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Tra Holder, Sophomore, Guard, 7.0 points per game
Gerry Blakes, Senior, Guard, 11.1 points per game
Kodi Justice, Sophomore, Guard, 4.6 points per game
Savon Goodman, Junior, Forward, 11.2 points per game
Eric Jacobsen, Senior, Forward, 8.3 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.4 (113th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.6 (165, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.5 (105, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 45.1 (285, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (119, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.0 (142, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.7 (256, 10)
Rebound Margin: 3.8 (63, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.7 (163, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.9 (290, 11)


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