Arizona State fans have high hopes for point guard Jahii Carson

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The 2011-12 season was a bad one for Arizona State, as the Sun Devils won just 10 games and finished tenth in the Pac-12. A major issue for Herb Sendek was the fact that one of his two most talented players wasn’t cleared to play.

That would be point guard Jahii Carson, who did not qualify academically and was only allowed to practice. That left Trent Lockett, now at Marquette, without the sidekick expected to help Arizona State climb back to respectability.

Now that Carson is eligible, along with transfers Evan Gordon (Liberty) and Bo Barnes (Hawaii), and returnees such as Chris Colvin and Carrick Felix are coming off of solid seasons the Sun Devils are expected by their fans to be an improved team.

And with Sendek committed to playing a faster tempo, the big question for Arizona State is whether or not Carson is ready to lead the way. The Mesa native certainly doesn’t lack for confidence.

“I definitely have a certain confidence and swagger about myself,” said Carson in an interview with John Marshall of the Associated Press. “I don’t want to seem arrogant or cocky, but I definitely have a confidence about my game. I have a confidence about my teammate’s game. I think that together, we can be something super.”

Even with players such as Lockett and James Harden having played for Sendek during his time in Tempe he hasn’t had a point guard as electric as Carson, which should make for an interesting 2012-13 season.

“Jahii is an electrifying player.  He’s blessed with amazing athletic talent.  But for me, the joy in practice with Jahii is his eagerness to learn,” said Sendek at Pac-12 Media Day. “And he has been a complete and total team guy.

“So that’s the joy that I get from working with Jahii every day.  He’s very unselfish and he’s very eager to learn.  And that’s an awesome combination to have in a young player (courtesy of ASAP Sports).”

But will the addition of Carson truly result in Arizona State playing faster? That remains to be seen. According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, the Sun Devils have never averaged more than 64 possessions/40 minutes during Sendek’s tenure in Tempe.

As noted above however, he hasn’t had a point guard like Carson before (although Derek Glasser was pretty good) and Sendek wants to play more man-to-man in an effort to push the tempo defensively.

“I have said this all offseason, so it is not breaking news, but I would be surprised if anyone is able to push the ball any faster than Arizona State,” Sendek said.

With Carson running the show it will be easier for Arizona State to carry that out. Now the question is whether or not they get it done.

Photo credit: Arizona State University

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.