Arizona State's version of "the big three" in Jahii Carson, Jermaine Marshall and Jordan Bachynski have all graduated or are headed to the NBA. The Sun Devils certainly have a lot to replace when it comes to team leadership and experience. Although a lot of new faces will be appearing on the court at Wells Fargo Arena next season, a few seasoned veterans are returning to Tempe.
Their experience however doesn't guarantee them any playing time and a few players who have already worn the maroon and gold for a season or longer will have their hands full competing for their spot with an impressive incoming group of transfers and freshmen. Here is a look at what to expect from those who already know what it takes to play Division I college basketball.
G Bo Barnes 6-4, Sr.
Barnes saw his role and playing time increase tremendously after head coach Herb Sendek was impressed with the Scottsdale native's hustle in a 91-68 loss to Arizona in Tucson. Barnes only averaged 3.6 minutes per game and saw action in 9 of 14 games before his appearance against the Wildcats when he was on the floor for 17 minutes and scored 13 points. He went on to average 13.8 minutes and 4.5 points per game while shooting 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.
It's really tough to see where Barnes might fit in next year. He works best at on the wing or two-guard spot and he simply can't beat out Roosevelt Scott for that spot. Sendek could give him another chance to prove himself in the early going or someone may simply step in ahead of him off the bench. Barnes brings a consistent heart and motor to the floor that can't be taught. He should get a fair shake at the sixth man spot again next season but Barnes probably won't see the kind of production he put up in the latter half of last season. Keep an eye out though because Barnes can come in to any situation in any game and immediately become an x-factor and contribute.
F Jonathan Gilling 6-7, Sr.
Arizona State fans seem to be in a consistent love or hate relationship with the "Danish Dagger." For every time he looks lost on the floor, he has another flash of brilliance or hot streak of made three pointers when it seems to matter most. Anytime Gilling scored at least 12 points last season, Arizona State won the basketball game but on the other side of the coin Gilling didn't put up a single point on four separate occasions during conference play last year and eventually lost his starting spot to Eric Jacobsen after the thrashing by U of A in Tucson.
He still played a large chunk of minutes every night as Sendek said he liked having Gilling play, "on edge." In fact his first game off the bench he went 5 of 5 from the field and scored 13 points. He finished the year strong as well scoring at least 13 points in four of the last five games of the season and averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season. Although he is 6-foot-7, Gilling plays much more like a three than a four. Sendek could put any number of combinations of players on the floor given next year's roster but Gilling is probably most directly in competition with Willie Atwood and then later in the year Savon Goodman for playing time. He should start the year on the bench and will probably play a similar role as a "spark."
F Shaquielle McKissic 6-4, Sr.
McKissic was one of the feel-good players of last season as his story of fighting his way back onto the court came to light. He struggled early in the year but seemingly found himself right around the beginning of December on his way to averaging 9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He had an ability to get the crowd on their feet with his high-flying and acrobatic dunks throughout the season. It may seem like a negative, but one of the first things anyone would notice about McKissic's season was that he didn't star in or have a particularly standout game, he was just hard-nosed and consistent for the majority of the year and occasionally came out of the woodwork the throw down an incredible dunk.
Because of this consistency, McKissic may be the one player fans can know for certain will walk on to the court for the tip-off in the first game of the season next year. If he can get a little more confident in his own shooting abilities from outside and develop a mid-range shot in the offseason, he could be a huge weapon for the Sun Devils next season as he makes the most of his extra year of eligibility. If Sendek decides to go full speed ahead with an athletic and fast-paced style of play, McKissic could quickly become the poster child for next year's squad.
F Eric Jacobsen 6-10, Jr.
"E.J." earned a starting spot that was somewhat fluid in the middle of conference play as Sendek realized that it was more beneficial to play two big men in Jacobsen and Bachynski and clog the paint. He plays physical but hasn't figured out how to fill out the stat sheet yet only averaging 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds a game last season. Jacobsen can be a force but he has to add to his repertoire and improve his post moves if he wants to be effective next season.
Connor MacDougall will certainly give Jacobsen a run for his money at the four spot next year. It really depends again on what type of lineup Sendek wants to put on the floor. The Sun Devils are somewhat limited at the five spot and as history has shown over the past few seasons with Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State is much more productive when they have a big man in the game who can put points on the board. Given Jacobsen's height and experience advantage over MacDougall he should start at the five spot with Atwood at the four.
F Sai Tummala 6-7, Jr.
Tummala won't see too much action next year will probably only get minutes in garbage time. He'll see a lot of time on the practice squad as the other team's best shooting forward. It's worth noting he graduated locally from Brophy Prep and averaged 2.1 points per game in 15 appearances.
G Chance Murray 6-2, So.
He was the youngest player in the Pac-12 last season and didn't turn 18 until November of last year. Murray got a very serious look from Sendek in the first three games of the season and then didn't see much action the rest of the year as Caelen Robinson emerged as the choice for backup point guard. It will be Gerry Blakes and Tra Holder competing for the starting job at point guard but Murray is also the only guard on the roster who has seen action in a Division I basketball game. He has a high basketball IQ, is a real student of the game so could also come on later in the season similar to what Bo Barnes did last year and surprise late but he won't get a very good look at starting point guard.