On Thursday, former Arizona State basketball star James Harden took home the NBA's prestigious Sixth Man of the Year Award. With Terrell Suggs having won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award last year, Phil Mickelson's run at a fourth Masters jacket last month and many others, it's time for a new House of Sparky Roundtable.
Topic: Which former Sun Devil is the best current professional athlete?
Brad Denny: I think when identifying the best former Sun Devil, you have to start with Phil Mickelson. Three green jackets and the 2005 PGA Championship give him an awards shelf no other current Devil can compete with.
Cody Ulm: Agreed. But as stupid as it may sound, you also have to factor in how long a professional golfer's career may be. Not to take away anything from Phil and his immense success but it's much easier to rack up the accolades over a longer period of time. How bout Dustin Pedroia? Only 28 and has already been a three time All-Star, a Silver Slugger, World Series champ, a Rookie of the Year and an MVP. Oh yeah, and two Gold Gloves as well.
Cory Williams: I think we can all agree that Phil Mickelson is a great Sun Devil. For my money, there's no one quite like Dustin Pedroia. He has handled a pressure cooker environment like Boston with grace, maturity and admirable leadership skills.
BD: But is Pedroia even the best Sun Devil in MLB? Over the last three seasons, I'd argue that Andre Ethier has been the better baseball player.
CW: Wait, we're giving props to a Dodger, now? Ethier is a solid player. He's certainly top five former Sun Devils in professional sports. But to say he's better than Pedroia? Apples and oranges. Different positions, different leagues, different handedness.
CU: That's a joke, right Brad? Even when Pedroia only played 75 games in 2010 he still hit more home runs than either did in 135 games in 2011. And he's 5'8" and plays second base.
BD: But Harden's not the only Sun Devil with a major award on his shelf from this past season. Terrell Suggs is the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year. As a die hard Steeler fan, I of course despise him, but I think that is a huge testament to his ability.
CW: I hope Suggs comes back strong after that achilles injury; we can't lose our Ball So Hard status.
BD: Ugh. "Ball So Hard University" a) doesn't reference ASU b) is stupid c) see a & b.
CU: While on the subject of the NFL though, I like Zach Miller. I know he doesn't have the numbers to back it up but he's always been brought down with terrible quarterback play.
CW: Miller has been quite good in the NFL. He's a great blocker too. Team player.
CU: If he was playing with a Brady or Brees, I think he'd be considered a top-5 all-round tight end in the NFL.
BD: Indeed, but I think MIller will never reach the level of Todd Heap's NFL production...another guy who has had less than stellar quarterbacks.
CU: Time to choose allegiances gentlemen, I think it comes down to Mickelson, Suggs, and Pedroia.
CW: We must acknowledge that Mickelson has had the longest, most successful career. I think Pedroia is the most impressive, against-all-odds superhero on the list. He represents ASU with dignity and makes us all proud.
CU: Agreed. Pedroia or bust. I truly believe that with the cloud over Barry Bonds that by the time Pedroia is retired, he will be considered the greatest player to come from ASU ever. And that's our most productive program.
BD: Personally, I rank the top three as Lefty, Harden and Suggs.
CU: MVP > Sixth Man. Get over your man crush of the beard.
CW: But you're entitled to your opinion, Brad. Heck, we somehow endorse it. Harden might win in two years. Now, it's Pedroia, with Mickelson counting his money and wearing green blazers right behind him.
BD: So Pedroia has been to the top of his sport's mountain once. Mickelson: not once, not twice but thrice! And was in contention on the final day again this year.
CW: It's an amazing achievement, but it's not a six month season where you are the best at your sport.
BD: So clearly there's a lot of good choices for the "current" title...let's look ahead to some future challengers to Dustin/Lefty/T-Suggs' throne.
CW: I'll take the beast of burden, Cameron Marshall. The guy has a chance to be a very solid running back at the NFL level. One more strong season as a Sun Devil and then he's off to the pros. I can see him being quite the player. Of course, you can't talk about three years away without mentioning James Harden. He could become an All-Star small forward once OKC gets broken up.
CU: No Brock?
BD: To me, Brock's NFL ceiling is "good" with maybe one or two "really good" seasons. I don't see him being elite, like I do with Omar.
CU: As Brad knows, I hated that selection for my Broncos not because of his potential but because of the Broncos blowing a second round draft pick on a developmental player when they should be in win now mode. But if he could be the next Aaron Rodgers. I mean, my spiral is not that tight but I think I could be a successful NFL quarterback if I learned from John Elway while watching Peyton Manning from the sidelines for four years.
CW: Unless Brock stops broadcasting his throws to the defense before every down, he will never make it in the NFL.
BD: Deven Marrero?
CU: Plays sterling defense with great range and a deadly accurate arm. Perhaps the best position player in the 2012 MLB draft when you consider he hits line drives to all fields consistently. He's going to have a long, long career as the number two hitter in somebody's lineup.
OK, you've heard us. Now it's your turn. Who is your pick? Make your argument in the Comments section below.