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NCAA Basketball Arizona State Sun DevilsPac 12 Basketball

Jahii Carson sparks Arizona State Sun Devils to Fast Start

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season started, I said that Arizona State guard Jahii Carson would be one of the top freshmen in the conference. It wasn’t hard to expect much out of the 5-10 dynamo who was the most prized recruit since James Harden and yet he’s gone on to exceed that.

Here are Carson’s numbers so far after six games: 19.0 points (4th in the Pac-12) and 5.5 assists (3rd in conference). Prior to his team’s game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, he was the leading freshmen scorer in the country and is still Top 5 among freshmen in scoring while Top 10 in assists.

But the most important number is 5-1. That’s the Sun Devils’ record and it’s their best start since 2009-2010. It’s given folks in Tempe hope that their neighbors in Tucson aren’t the only thing heating up in Arizona. After missing last season due to academic eligibility, Carson hasn’t wasted any time making his mark.

The Sun Devils are third in the Pac-12 in scoring at 77.2 ppg, barely a point behind UCLA (78.0). Much of that can be credited to Carson pushing the tempo and sparking the offense. In the Sun Devils’ loss to No. 11 Creighton, Carson had a game-high 30 points, so he’s done his work against better competition.

Carson’s elevated the game of some solid players around him and made them even more formidable in their own right. The biggest beneficiaries of his dribble penetration? Carrick Felix (third in the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage – .478) and Jonathan Gilling (a conference leading 2.5 3-pointers a game).

Felix, an All Pac-12 candidate, is also tied for the conference lead in steals (2.3). Throw in center Jordan Bachynski averaging 11.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and a conference-high 5.3 blocks (good for second in the nation) and the Sun Devils have a balanced attack.

But it’s clear to me that Carson is establishing himself as one of the top freshmen point guards in the country and it won’t be long before he becomes one of the top point guards period, regardless of class.