No player on the Arizona State basketball team was under the microscope like Jahii Carson was at the start of the season. The redshirt freshman from Mesa, Arizona, was seen as the best talent to play basketball at Wells Fargo Arena since James Harden.
Carson has responded with an outstanding first 17 games of his Sun Devil career. The 5-10 point guard leads the team in points, assists and FT percentage. So we asked our staff to evaluate Carson's performance through the first half of the season in our second roundtable of the year.
Question: Has Jahii Carson met, exceeded, or fallen short of the preseason expectations for him?
Kerry Crowley: In the basketball offseason, the Sun Devil media relations department decided to make Jahii Carson the focal point of hyping up the 2012-2013 season. As a freshman, fans were going to expect the most out of Jahii because of his status as a national recruit, his legendary days at Mesa High, and because Sun Devil fans didn't really have anything else to look forward to. After coming off a couple of dismal seasons, Jahii represented hope that a new era was upon us.
Despite facing incredibly difficult expectations, Jahii Carson has lived up to his billing and actually exceeded what we all thought was possible. We knew Jahii would be talented, but no one expected the Sun Devils to be this talented. Jahii has led a full-scale revival in Tempe and he's been doing it with electrifying speed, incredible court vision, and a commitment to sharing the love. By averaging over 17 points and five assists per game, Jahii has made each of his teammates better and put them in positions to be successful.
There's a reason that the excitement surrounding the freshman has not died down. Day after day, the national media finds a new way to incorporate Jahii into articles, star performer lists, and who to watch for guides. The Sun Devils go as Jahii goes, and right now, 14-3 doesn't look too shabby.
Tyler Nickel: Coming into the season, Jahii Carson's name carried a lot of weight with it. The local freshman product was supposed to be the savior of ASU hoops, the guy that would become the face of the team and could turn this program around. To me, he has been everything and more than advertised. For every game I have covered, he has been one of the players at the podium, handling questions from the media. He handles himself with such great tact and poise, on and off the court.
When he is on the floor with his teammates, he is astounding to watch. Carson is a natural born leader at the point guard position and plays it with such natural ability. That is why he was named one of the 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy award. He is a pure point guard in that he looks to assist his team first, but can score if need be. He does not let his height becoming a negative influence on him, opting to instead use his quickness and balance to defeat his opponents.
I am excited to watch this kid play at ASU for the coming years and see what he does after that. Great things are in store for young Jahii Carson.
Cory Williams: Jahii has met expectations. He's lightning fast, has a great sense of space and seems to always know where his teammates are on the court. He has deficiencies, of course - free throw shooting, midrange jumper, sometimes defers to his teammates when he has a wide open look - but these minor issues are nothing compared to what he has brought to the table since the season began.
He's intelligent, unselfish and is a true leader. In many ways, he has exceeded my wildest dreams for his performance. As it stands, he is well on his way to becoming one of the best basketball players in the Pac-12... and with more seasoning and experience, one of the best college basketball players, period.
Nick Marek: My colleagues said it all so I will keep this short and sweet. Jahii Carson is that good! He even refers to himself as third person on Twitter. Also on the Twitter world I read a tweet from Doug Tammaro that basically said the last freshman to score 17 points and 5 assists his first year was Shaheen Holloway for Seton Hall during the 1996-97 season. Jahii Carson currently has 17.1 points per game and 5.2 assists per game heading into the second part of the season. To think about how many fantastic freshman guards have played in the past decade. Wow!
Sure, he needs to fine-tune some things like most freshman do but he is well on his way to putting ASU back on the basketball map. Everyone always seems to forget that there is basketball in the state of Arizona outside of Tucson. He is already a star player, but the scoring presence of Carrick Felix is helping Carson tremendously. I hope with Felix graduating after this season, Carson can take some leadership duties by himself. Yes, I'm impressed but keep working hard young man. Don't disappoint your fans after giving them this much hope.
Cody Ulm: I agree wholeheartedly with everything you guys have already laid out but I do feel that Jahii Carson has fallen short on one particular expectation: the dunking. I mean, the whole reason the Carson hype train got rolling the way it did was because of his dunk highlight reels on YouTube. Yet we're 17 games into the season and we still haven't seen an actual in-game dunk (or at least by my count). Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling him a fraud or something; I've seen him throw down in practice before and it's almost caused my head to explode from pure, unadulterated awe. But I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering when he's finally going to posterize some poor fool.
As always feel free to post in the comment section below and answer our roundtable question of the week.