(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Everybody loves speculation so why don’t we go ahead and speculate a little.
First let’s set the scene by laying out what is factual and why there is already a cloud of negativity over the 2014-15 Arizona State basketball season.
From last season’s ASU roster four players have graduated, three are transferring, one has declared for the NBA draft early and another exhausted his NCAA eligibility. The team will be without 60 percent of its played minutes from last season and 67 percent of its scored points. They also are suffering the loss of influential assistant coach Eric Musselman.
That being said, there is a reason NBA executives are ogling over this year’s draft. Yes, the country’s high profile freshmen are a large contributor to this enthusiasm but it is also the quality sophomores and juniors that will be available late in the first round and early in the second round that make draft day so intriguing.
The Pac-12 is exporting a large amount of those players this season and the conference’s contribution to the NBA is nothing but good news for Arizona State. The Egyptian like exodus from college into the promised land of the Association is filled with individuals who have previously torched the Sun Devils.
Here are the players who won’t be returning because of graduation:
(Stan) Dwight Powell- 14.0 PPG 32.4 MPG
Game 1 against ASU: 28 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
Game 2 against ASU: 11 points, 6 rebounds
Game 3 against ASU: 15 points, 5 rebounds
(OSU) Roberto Nelson- 20.7 PPG 32.9 MPG
Game 1 against ASU: 26 points
Game 2 against ASU: 15 points 6 rebounds
(Cal) Justin Cobbs- 15.6 PPG 34.4 MPG
Game 1 against ASU: 21 points
Game 1 against ASU: 15 points
(UW) C.J Wilcox-18.3 PPG 34.9 MPG
Game 1 against ASU: 17 points
(USC) Byron Wesley- 17.8 PPG 34.6 MPG
Game 1 against ASU: 20 points, 14 rebounds
Summarizing the above stats, the Sun Devils went 5-4 against these player’s teams during the season. Monster performances such as Powell’s first outing against ASU will happily be shown out the door. However, even in the games that ASU won, players like Wesley and Cobbs in his second performance were some of the lone providers that allowed their opposing teams to compete with ASU.
Also accompanying the graduates out of the Pac-12’s realm are players who believe they’re league ready and declared themselves eligible for the draft:
(U of A) Aaron Gordon- 12.4 PPG 31.2 MPG
Game 1 against ASU: 16 points, 6 rebounds
Game 2 against ASU: 13 points, 10 rebounds
(U of A) Nick Johnson- 16.3 PPG 33.0 MPG
Game 1 against ASU: 17 points
Game 2 against ASU: 14 points, 9 rebounds
(UCLA) Kyle Anderson- 14.6 PPG 33.2 MPG
Game 1 against ASU: 17 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists
(OSU) Eric Moreland- 8.9 PPG 29.4 MPG
Game 1 against ASU: 8 points, 17 rebounds
Game 2 against ASU: 16 points, 19 rebounds
In this category are some of the bigger names the Pac-12 has to offer and the Sun Devils went 2-3 against these programs. The beast of a night Moreland put together against ASU with 16 and 19 was a tremendous reason the Sun Devils narrowly lost its second game to Oregon State. Anderson’s versatility position wise as well as his ability to slow the game down and still get to the hoop with ease because of his length are not qualities Herb Sendek will miss game planning against. And it is well documented how big of a force Nick Johnson has been against ASU during his collegiate career.
Nine of the Pac-12’s top 15 scorers will not be in the conference next season because of transfer, draft declaration or graduation.
Joseph Young, who was the number two scorer in the conference, is still deciding his future. ESPN is reporting that Spencer Dinwiddie, who was a force before he went down early in the season with an injury, is also still weighing his NBA options and is currently leaning toward the league.
All of this is to say, if one is going to grieve over the exit of Jordan Bachynski, Jahii Carson and Jermaine Marshall, that same person should rejoice over the departure of these high profile and productive players that have won important conference games against ASU.
If you’re going to speculate, go ahead speculate we all do it one way or another. Arizona State is not the only team in the Pac-12 Conference losing key players next season.
You can reach this reporter via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CammeronNeely