The Arizona State Sun Devils have not had a lottery pick since James Harden went to the Oklahoma City Thunder third overall in the 2009 NBA Draft. However, that trend will change at the end of the season as Jahii Carson, a relentless point guard, takes the PAC-12 by storm.
Carson had a 40-point game earlier in the season against UNLV in which he took 25 shots and dished out seven assists. It’s apparent that the state of Arizona has two young basketball players that are taking the West coast by storm; Aaron Gordon and Carson are those players. This draft might be headlined by Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart and Julius Randle but Carson needs to be mentioned with these guys.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore from Mesa, AZ, has improved ten-fold from his freshman season in which he averaged 18.5 points and five assists. So far in the young season, Carson has cut down on his turnovers (down almost one turnover per game this season), bolstered his three-point percentage by almost 25 percent and has scored a clip of 23 points per game.
Coach Herb Sandek has done a great job in helping one of the best scorers in the country improve wildly. Luckily for Sandek, Carson and the Sun Devils, they played a zone-heavy Marquette Golden Eagles squad. Carson could always penetrate into the lane and make lay-ups, floaters and runners; he has now added a deadly three-point jumper and pull-up jumper to his arsenal. Thanks to the 2-3 matchup zone that Marquette ran, Carson took over the game in the first half. In the first half, he finished with 14 points and three assists.
Marquette made some adjustments when it came to Carson and went to a more man-to-man defense at the half. However, that was not enough to stop him and 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski who finished the night with a double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds). Not only were Bachysnki’s points and rebounds spectacular, he finished with seven blocks (one to win the game); he is a true difference maker on the defensive end. Carson finished with 23 points and three assists despite getting his third foul early into the second half.
Carson is an almost perfect clone to Shane Larkin, who had a great year last year at Miami (FL), and could find himself sneaking into the lottery after his early season performance. ASU will make the tournament at the end of the season and its season will have to rely on the underappreciated point guard they have at their disposal. The win over Marquette will help the Sun Devils realize the adversity it must have to win games down the stretch.
Marquette is a program on the rise and coach Buzz Williams has them playing to their potential. The win the Sun Devils put on them at home was a nail-biting 79-77 victory. Carson and Bachynski were the heroes of the game but the unsung hero, Jermaine Marshall, had 20 points on seven-of-13 shooting and made the dagger free throw to win. The three of Carson, Bachysnki and Marshall combined for 58 points.
This win will put the stud point guard and his team, the Sun Devils, on the radar of all college basketball analysts across the country.
John Lloyd is a PAC-12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on twitter @JohnHLloydIII