ASU Basketball Frontcourt Preview: Can Jordan Bachynski take the next step?

USA TODAY Sports

The Sun Devils backcourt will be among the best in the country but what about that frontcourt? Ben Haber takes a look at Arizona State's big man options.

The optimism surrounding the ASU basketball program gets attributed to Jahii Carson, and rightfully so. But even with his unforgettable freshman campaign, it wasn't even enough in 2012. The missing piece?

The frontcourt.

Jordan Bachynski has flashed an ability to be game-changing center at times. It remains to be seen if he has the consistency or the tenacity to deliver nightly. In 2012 he accumulated 10 points and six rebounds per game; that won't be enough in 2013.

Jonathan Gilling stands beside Bachynski at the power forward position, giving Herb Sendek another versatile weapon.

It's rare to see long distance offensive specialists also rebound the ball proficiently, but Gilling is clearly an exception.
Beyond Bachynski and Gilling, the only (relatively) proven option would be sophomore Eric Jacobsen.

So, will that three-man big rotation suffice? And what are the expectations for each player in the frontcourt? Let's find out!

The Returners

Jordan Bachynski - 9.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.4 BPG

There's nothing prettier than being able to play inside-out basketball. Bachynski grants ASU that luxury. On the defensive side of the floor, Bachynski has proven to be arguably the best rim protector in the Pac-12. The questions about him are regarding rebounding and scoring.

Bachynski doesn't consistently control the glass well enough for a 7'1 player who towers over his opponents. And despite three years of fine-tuning, his post moves remain nothing special. The obvious potential to improve in both facets makes him the X-factor for the Sun Devils season.

Jonathan Gilling - 9.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.8 APG

In case you didn't know, Gilling was born and raised in Denmark. European basketball often consists of lots of sharp shooting and Gilling fits the bill. But Gilling isn't a one-trick pony; he's sneaky good on the boards as well. The long range and rebounding combo allows Gilling to be unique, just like his upbringing.

As of now, he can't exactly create his own shot mostly due to his turnover tendencies when placing the ball on the hardwood. Gilling's dribbling deficiencies make him reliant on Carson and the other ball handlers. If he can become more fluid with the rock, Gilling should surpass the 10-point plateau easily.

Eric Jacobsen - 1.7 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.3 APG

When Bachynski or Gilling need a breather, Eric Jacobsen will get the call. The sophomore power forward/center stands it at 6'10 and has become known for his high IQ on the court. Jacobsen posted 16 points off the bench against Hartford, which was the third most for any freshman reserve during the Herb Sendek era.

For Jacobsen to take the next step he needs to go from decent in most categories to finding a specific identity on both ends of the floor. The solid playing time and experience he gained in his freshman campaign should pay dividends.

Dave Whitmore

The senior from Tempe, Arizona appeared in a mere three games last season. Whitmore studies at the Barrett Honors College. If Jacobsen, Bachynski or Gilling went down, Whitmore would be the next man up.

Newcomers

Richie Edwards - 9.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.5 APG (2011-12 for Valapariso)

After sitting out the 2012-13 campaign, Richie Edwards can finally lace them up and play for the Sun Devils. Edwards transferred from Valapariso because he preferred the fit with Herb Sendek. The 6'7, 220-pounder came to the Valley of the Sun averaging 9.4 points per game, 3.1 rebounds on a mere 17.8 minutes per game. Edwards should provide a scoring punch off the bench.

Shaquielle McKissic - 22.5 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 3.9 APG (Edmonds Junior College)

Replacing Carrick Felix won't be feasible for one person, but Shaquille McKissic will do his best to mask the loss. McKissic does feature elite athleticism though, similar to what made Felix unique. That said, adjusting from the junior college ranks to Pac-12 basketball will take time. But as Felix proved, it certainly isn't impossible. Unfortunately for McKissic, he won't have the luxury of time since this is has last year of eligibility. McKissic stole the show at the Maroon and Gold scrimmage leading the entire team in scoring. According to the initial depth chart, he will start at the small forward position.

Sai Tummala - 14.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 0.9 APG (Salt Lake Community College)

The journey began at Brophy Prep high school right here in the Valley of the Sun. Sai Tummala delt with some off the court issues that knocked him off track, eventually ending up at Salta Lake Community College. From there he walked on at the University of Michigan and redshirted. After those experiences, Tummala decided to come back home to play for ASU. Tummala still owns three years of eligibility. He will be competing for minutes off the bench.

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