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ASU Basketball Frontcourt Preview: Who will step up on offense?

A look at the Sun Devil big men heading into the 2015-16 season.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

He came up clutch whenever Arizona State needed a basket. He was there when his athleticism was required to guard a key opponent at any position on the floor.

And now, Shaquille McKissic is gone. The team's leading scorer from a season ago has graduated, leaving some big question marks in the Sun Devil frontcourt.

What are the expectations? How will the returnees fit into coach Bobby Hurley's new system? We break it all down below.

The Returners (2014-15 stats represented below)

Savon Goodman - 11.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 0.8 APG

Goodman is the new leader of this group. The junior forward out of Philadelphia is one of the most versatile players on the roster and can defend players much larger than normal for a guy that is 6-foot-6 and 220-pounds.

He is the team's best finisher at the rim but struggled at times last season with his shooting stroke, especially from the free throw line (just 56 percent). Goodman missed the majority of preseason practices with a right foot injury but is listed as probable for Friday's regular season opener.

Eric Jacobsen - 8.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 0.9 APG

Fans of the maroon and gold will be intrigued by the new-look Eric Jacobsen. He is down 20 pounds from last season. The senior finished last season with a 62.6 FG% and should only get more jump shot opportunities with the new frame and up-tempo offense.

The biggest question is how long will it take him to get acclimated to Hurley's pace? He had a good exhibition game last weekend (although, so did everyone else), scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds. If Jacobsen can knock down the 14-to-18 foot jumper consistently, Arizona State might just have a replacement for McKissic's leadership.

Willie Atwood - 3.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.4 APG

Atwood figures to be a bit of a wild card. He was typically the eighth or ninth man off the bench a year ago but should see much more time in his second season season with the program.

The Memphis product is capable of playing small forward, but his rebounding prowess should keep him on the block for the majority of his minutes. Atwood's athleticism, both on the glass and on the defensive side of the floor, should at the very least get him on the floor during important late-game situations.

He finished two games last season in double figures, scoring 11 against Chicago State and a career high 12 at Utah.


Maurice O'Field - 15.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG (2014-15 for Midland College)

Hurley has filled out this roster with four junior college transfers, and O'Field might be the headliner of that group. He was originally a Buffalo commit but now finds himself in the Pac-12, where he will be forced into playing a lot of time at small forward despite only being 6-foot-5.

O'Field will shoot the ball well, a commodity in high demand for this frontcourt, and should start a handful of games throughout the season. He played 24 minutes off the bench on Saturday against Western New Mexico, and while he did have a cold day from the field, his 11 rebounds more than made up for it.

Obinna Oleka - 25.6 PPG, 13.6 RPG (2013-14 for SCF, Manatee-Sarasota)

Oleka signed with Texas out of high school but was released from his letter of intent after "issues and concerns" started to develop, according to Longhorn coach Rick Barnes. He eventually found a home in Bradenton, Florida and lit up the stat sheet, averaging over 25 points per game.

Hurley will rely on Oleka to contribute at both the power and small forward positions, but it is tough to say how just how much of a role he will play in his first season with the Sun Devils. He peppered the stat sheet in his first game in an ASU uniform, scoring 18 points to go along with 12 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.

Andre Adams - *Out this season due to injury*

Adams was a late addition to Hurley's first class, coming to Tempe from the IMG Academy in Florida after growing up just down the road in Tolleson. He unfortunately will have to miss the 2015-16 season because of a torn ACL. His left knee appeared to be completely healed after tearing the same ligament back in his third game with IMG last November, but Adams re-tore it in practice again two months ago.

When he eventually does see game action for the maroon and gold, expect to see a player similar to Oleka. Adams is athletic enough to defend nearly anyone in this conference, and will spend time at both the three and four spots.


We should get a good sense of just how much of an impact the frontcourt will have pretty early in the season. While guards like Tra Holder and Gerry Blakes will definitely be the leaders of Hurley's new offense, Jacobsen, O'Field, and Oleka all present matchup problems for opposing defenses.

It is pretty clear that Goodman will need to take on a McKissic-like role if Arizona State is to make a run at an NCAA Tournament bid. While he may not be a great shooter, the Sun Devils don't need him to be one. He's got enough talent where he can still put up an easy 12 points a night and open things up for the rest of the offense.

This group has the potential to be great, and they should cause a lot of problems for Pac-12 teams later in the season. The only question is, how long will it take them to get there?