It seems like everyone has an opinion on Jahii Carson. Most have been critical of the 5-foot-10 point guard this season, pointing to his lack of improvement as a reason the team remains on the bubble. However, one thing that cannot be debated is that Carson turned around this Arizona State basketball program and made it relevant in the valley once again.
So, with the news that he is indeed leaving after this season, we asked our writers if Carson is making a smart decision leaving school after two seasons.
Question: Do you think it is a wise decision for Jahii Carson to leave school after his sophomore year?
Nick Krueger: His improvement from last year to this year hasn't been that significant in my opinion. As it stands right now, Carson is averaging 18.4 points per game compared to 18.5 last year. He's also playing two fewer minutes per game than he did last year. His field goal percentage is at 43.6 percent which is four percentage points worse than last year.
Carson's assists per game are also down. The only two areas he's improved in are rebounds per game and 3-point shooting percentage. I think his peak everyday production is probably right around how he played Wednesday night against Stanford when he had 26 points, four assists and two rebounds.
Considering the incoming recruiting class which I would characterize as middle of the pack, and the returners who don't yield a lot of experience outside Gilling and Jacobsen, I don't think it would be wise for him to return. Looking at how little he's improved with probably the best team he could have asked for this season, Carson runs the risk of being the best in a bad situation which doesn't help his draft stock at all.
He could potentially benefit from another year but trying to look at it from his perspective, he's making the right choice because the risks far outweigh the benefits of coming back to ASU next year.
Cody Ulm: In an ideal world, Carson stays at least another year and fine-tunes his deficiencies. But Nick brings up an interesting point: if Carson can't put it all together with this team, does he stand that much better of a chance next year with three of Arizona State's five starters graduating?
That being said, I estimate that his stock can't realistically get any lower. If anything, the decision to return for another year would show some maturity which would only help his NBA stock. Carson is in the late-first, early-second range at this point in a loaded draft. So why not wait another year, let things thin out, and see if you can improve enough to climb the board and become a late lottery selection?
The only issue with this theory is that Carson's most glaring weakness, his decision-making, could potentially be magnified in a new rotation with less-familiar teammates. And if he's forced to personally take over more games, it's only going to feed into that stereotype that he's an instant-offense type of backup point guard instead of a well-rounded, starting-caliber court quarterback (please say that five times fast).
But ultimately, I don't look at a potential return meaning he's the best player in a bad situation. I look at it as a chance for him to prove why he's one of the best players in an situation that will be in dire need of a steady presence commanding the offense. The 2014-15 Sun Devils would be his for the molding and if he's able to make his teammates look better through his leadership, it's going to silence a lot of the critics. And if he doesn't, the scouts aren't going to fault him for trying as long as the effort is there and he doesn't give up on the team.
Ryan Bafaloukos: I do think that Jahii Carson is making the right move in leaving school after two years for a few reasons. The first is what Nick already brought up and Cody touched on. How can he expect to get better and show off his skill set with what is returning next year. I am not saying that the 2014-2015 Sun Devils will be awful, however this team is losing its top four offensive options.
The second is at the end of the day, few prospects who return to school for another year actually help their draft stock. The longer you are in school, the more potential starts to fade and reality starts to set in as with basketball, a lot of guys get picked on potential. Honestly, if Carson hasn't fixed the holes in his game by now what makes people believe they are magically going to change if he stays another season. Better for him to get on an NBA team and let that coaching staff try to improve his game.