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ASU Basketball Frontcourt Preview: Can Shaquielle McKissic be the force the Sun Devils need?

A look at the Sun Devil bigs heading into the 2014-15 season.

The High-Flying Shaquille McKissic Will Be The Key To Arizona State's Frontcourt
The High-Flying Shaquille McKissic Will Be The Key To Arizona State's Frontcourt
Ethan Miller

While last year's NCAA Tournament trip was led by point guard Jahii Carson, the services of center Jordan Bachynski were as critical a part as any. The seven-footer averaged 11.5 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, and 4 blocks per game for Arizona State.

Bachynski is gone now (as is Carson and Jermaine Marshall), and it's time for a group of inexperienced but talented newcomers to take over. What are the expectations for the frontcourt? We break them down below.

The Returners (2013-14 stats represented below)

Shaquielle McKissic - 9.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.6 APG

With the departure of Carson, Bachynski, and Jermaine Marshall, McKissic is the new face of the program. The senior small forward out of Seattle is the team's returning leading scorer and the offense will go through him whenever he is in the game. His defense isn't too shabby either. While not big enough to be the rim protector that coach Herb Sendek needs to find, McKissic is an annoying defender that can guard anyone from a point guard to a small forward. He led the team in steals last season with 1.3 per game. When Arizona State goes man on defense, you will be hard pressed to find a better defender in the conference. McKissic is the de facto X-factor for this team.

Jonathan Gilling - 7.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.7 APG

Gilling took a step backwards last season after a superb sophomore campaign and that trend could very well continue this season. Unless he has found a way to create his own shot, most of his looks will be coming on putbacks after offensive rebounds. The Dane isn't your classic low-post banger but gets the job done on the glass. The sharp-shooter found most of his attempts last year coming on possessions where Carson would drive into the lane, draw a crowd, and then kick it out to a wide open Gilling on the perimeter. Freshman point guard Tra Holder might get to that point eventually, but I do not see it happening early on in the year.

On the defensive end of the floor, I see Sendek using Gilling's 6-foot-7 frame in a lot of different trapping looks. The more turnovers that lead to points the better, seeing as this team does not have a lot of proven options in that category.

Eric Jacobsen - 2.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.3 APG

Jacobsen might see the biggest increase in minutes of anyone this season. He averaged only 10.4 MPG last year as a sophomore but could be a nightly starter on this year's team. His best performances came in a two game stretch against Colorado and California in which he averaged 6.5 points per game and six rebounds per game in a pair of wins. Honestly, that kind of production would be just fine this season. While Jacobsen is definitely more of a role player, his height forces defenses to key on him and I think that makes him one of the most important players on the roster.

Sai Tummala - 2.1 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.2 APG

The Phoenix native is now in his second year with the program. Stuck behind McKissic and Marshall last season, you could see more of Tummala in 2014-15. Like Gilling, he is a 6-foot-7 big man that can shoot the three when needed.

Newcomers

Willie Atwood - 20.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG (2013-14 for Connors State College)

One of the many junior college transfers on this team, Atwood might be the one that can contribute the most immediately. Extremely athletic for his 6-foot-8, 220 pound frame, he can play either the three or four. I'm expecting him down low for most of the season as this team needs his rebounding ability. Atwood finished third in the NJCAA last season with rebounds per game and was a third team NJCAA All-American as well at Connors State in Oklahoma.

Savon Goodman - 3.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG (2012-13 for UNLV)

After petty theft and trespassing misdemeanors forced him out at UNLV, Goodman transferred to Indian Hills Community College last year but did not play for the Warriors. He will be eligible to play his first game in a Sun Devil uniform on Dec. 16 at Marquette. While it sucks that he will not be available for the Maryland, UNLV, and Texas A&M games, his play during practice has drawn high praise so he will provide a nice addition next month. By the time league play rolls around, I'd expect him to be in the seven or eight deep rotation. His defense will remind fans of McKissic's and his athleticism allows him to provide pressure anywhere on the court. Goodman stole the show at last week's maroon and gold scrimmage, scoring 18 points and showing off his offensive rebounding ability. He is definitely the wildcard on this roster.

Connor MacDougall - Freshman

MacDougall is a hometown product out of Corona del Sol high school. The freshman is the only true center on the roster but his game might be a little too raw to see major minutes in his freshman season. Nevertheless, there will be times when he is pressed into action when Jacobsen gets into foul trouble or Sendek wants the team to go big. He actually missed some of preseason camp due to a bike accident, but that did not seem to effect him too much when he played in front of fans at the maroon and gold scrimmage. MacDougall showed off some decent low post moves during his time on the floor. It will be interesting to see how Sendek uses him in Friday's season opener against Chicago State.

Roosevelt Scott - 17.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.2 SPG (2013-14 for Indian Hills CC)

Scott will split time between shooting guard and small forward depending on what the lineup calls for in his first year at Arizona State. His athleticism gives him the ability to get to the basket with consistency and he might provide a nice change of pace for the offense. His production at the JUCO level was impressive, but he's also pre. Now it's time to see if it translates to the Pac-12.