Jahii Carson is a bit of an anomaly. First, he was a highly-recruited in-state prospect who chose to attend Arizona State rather than Arizona. Second, he was ruled a non-qualifier, and chose to stay put rather than head to JuCo or another school that would let him play (a la Tony Mitchell at North Texas). As transfers and losses mount for Herb Sendek, his biggest ray of sunshine comes from the fact that Carson is not only available, but eager to run the Sun Devils.
Carson is a slick, quick point guard, with an upbeat attitude and a great mindset. He showed off his intangibles in a recent interview with Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic. Haller’s questioning got at the root of Carson’s dedication to the school:
You could have gone to a lot of schools with more basketball prestige. Why here?
“When I decided to come to Arizona State, I looked at James Harden. And I looked at me wanting to play at a higher level, whether that would take one year, two years, three years or four years. And I saw how Coach Sendek prepared James. James was ready (to leave after) his freshman year, but Coach Sendek and his staff told him, ‘Wait, look at what you can do here for Arizona State basketball and what can you do for yourself as a marketing brand. Look at how much better you can get.’ I saw the way they prepared him and just got him ready for the next level. I saw a maturity of his game from the first year to his second year. I saw how they helped Jeff Pendergraph. How they developed Derek Glasser. How Ty Abbott became a clutch 3-point shooter. … If they could develop those guys, then I knew they could really help me.”
Carson’s appreciation for the basketball culture at ASU doesn’t rest entirely upon the past. He praised the “old-man game” of teammate Evan Gordon, comparing him to Joe Dumars in the process, and described his head coach as “intelligent, spunky and funny”. The 5’10” guard predicted he’d throw down a windmill dunk in a game, as well.
Sendek knows what he’s got in Carson. It’s all on display right here. He’s a student of the game, a loyal teammate with a sense of humor, and he has loads and loads of confidence. If Arizona State is going to make an impact in the Pac-12 this year, Carson will need to bring his full suitcase of skills and intangibles to the table.