Jahii Carson

How fast is Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson?

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The debate of which point guard is the nation’s best tends to end rather quickly thanks to the presence of Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. Yes, an Aaron Craft (Ohio State) can enter the discussion, but it’s tough to argue with a player who would have been a high lottery pick had he not made the decision to return to Stillwater for his sophomore season.

Another point guard who deserves mention is Arizona State sophomore Jahii Carson, who arrived on the scene after sitting out the 2011-12 season and nearly helped to lead the Sun Devils to the NCAA tournament. For his efforts Carson was named Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year (shared with UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad), and in many circles he’s the early favorite to win Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2013-14.

As for the question of who the nation’s fastest point guard may be, that discussion may not take very long either. Approximately 3.4 seconds to be more concise, thanks to the efforts of Arizona State administrative assistant Andrew Taylor.

Taylor grabbed one play from Arizona State’s 72-62 win at Oregon State on January 10 that illustrates just how fast Carson is. (Yes, Memphis’ Joe Jackson may have an argument.)

Doug Haller of AZCentral.com took the time to break down the play, which began with a made free throw by Oregon State’s Devon Collier, step by step.

Of course there will be arguments that the inbounds pass from Jonathan Gilling didn’t hurt in Carson’s quest to go from end to end, but this display of speed with the basketball is something else. And that trait (speed) is just one reason why Carson’s so highly regarded within the Pac-12 (and nationally).

Can he lead the Sun Devils to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009? That’s certainly a possibility, and players such as Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall (transfer from Penn State) will help in this mission.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

USC athletic director Pat Haden to step down in June

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LOS ANGELES (AP) University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says he will retire on June 30.

USC President Max Nikias made the announcement Friday.

Haden has run the athletic department for 5 1/2 years, leading the Trojans through a multiyear stretch of NCAA sanctions against its vaunted football program. He created a large NCAA compliance program and improved graduation rates and grade point averages across the athletic department.

The former USC quarterback also received criticism for the football program’s relative underachievement and for his handling of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has sued the school over his termination last year.

Nikias says Haden’s department also raised over $400 million during his tenure.

Nikias says Haden will start a one-year job guiding the renovation of the Coliseum after he retires.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.