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ASU Athletics: 16 Storylines for 2016

What to watch for in 2016 from ASU athletics.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

As the year 2015 has finally come to an end, it is time to look ahead to 2016. Here are 16 storylines to watch surrounding ASU athletics in 2016.

Note: These are not ranked in any particular order.

Who will be ASU's starting quarterback?

This will be the dominant storyline surrounding ASU football for the next nine months, or until Todd Graham names a starter. For the first time since 2012, the Sun Devils will enter a season not knowing who their starting quarterback will be.

Although it is possible for Graham and the coaching staff to announce a starter during or after spring practice, but I would anticipate a fall decision. Expect some dominoes -- in the form of a transfer or two -- to also follow the decision on who ASU's signal caller will be in 2016.

How far can Bobby Hurley take ASU?

As of January 1, ASU has an RPI in the 30's and just finished a brutal non-conference schedule 10-3 including wins over UNLV, Creighton, Texas A&M and NC State. For the first time I can remember, ASU has built a strong tournament resume before Pac-12/10 play and that is something that cannot be stated enough.

ASU has put itself in a position to go 10-8 or even 9-9 in the conference and still have a great chance at making the tournament. The question now is: How far can this team go?

Can ASU land Thon Maker?

Earlier this week, Bobby Hurley landed a top-100 player in the class of 2017 as that class begins to take shape. However, with two top-100 players already signed for the class of 2016, Hurley and his staff are making a strong push for Thon Maker, a Kevin Garnett clone who is a consensus top-10 player in the class of 2016.

Maker would be the highest player to sign at ASU in the internet recruiting era. If ASU can land maker and keep the core of this team (Holder, Goodman, Justice, Oleka) in tact, ASU may be looked as a favorite in the Pac-12 next season.

What does ASU baseball look like in 2016?

Tracy Smith has a bit of a rebuild on his hands in 2016 as the Sun Devils lose two-thirds of their weekend rotation, their entire outfield and perhaps the school's best closer from the 2015 squad. While the cupboard isn't bare, there are a lot of questions surrounding ASU baseball this upcoming season.

Now, the future under Smith is very bright. ASU has a top-5 class coming in for the 2017 season there are a good amount of talented freshman on this roster. However, ASU has not been to Omaha since 2010 and have not advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 2011.

ASU Hockey's full time venture to Division I

While the team is playing a hybrid ACHA/Division I schedule this season, 2016-2017 begins the full time venture. ASU is recruiting at a very high level however two questions looms large for next season: How good can ASU be in its first full Division I season and where will they play?

While plenty of renovations have been made to Oceanside, it cannot support a Division I hockey team full time. The Sun Devils have devoted a lot of resources to the program however the long term home of the team is not known at the moment.

Sun Devil Stadium Renovations

Phase II has already begun and will continue through the summer as Sun Devil Stadium continues to get a much-needed facelift. Expect Phase III to commence following the 2016 season as the stadium nears completion.

Bob Bowman and ASU Swimming

When Bob Bowman was hired in September it sent shockwaves through the ASU athletic department. A relatively obscure sport now had a famous face and some notoriety. With the recent news that Michael Phelps is planning on coaching at ASU following the 2016 Rio Olympics, the future seems bright in the pool for the Sun Devils.

Sun Devils in the NFL Draft

The 2016 NFL Draft figures to be a quiet one for the Sun Devils. Christian Westerman is expected to be selected on Day 2 and there is a chance D.J. Foster, Lloyd Carrington, Antonio Longino and a few other Sun Devils are taken towards the end of the draft or make their way into an NFL training camp.

How does ASU finish out the 2016 recruiting cycle?

Todd Graham and company have hit home runs in the state of Arizona with the likes of Chase Lucas and N'Keal Harry and the Sun Devils already have six of the top-100 JUCO players enrolled. Right now ASU's class ranks No. 22 in the nation and 5th in the Pac-12 according to 247 Sports as ASU looks to compile its second straight top-25 class.

The direction of ASU softball

Softball coach Craig Nicholson resigned due to medical reasons in October and for the 2016 season assistant coaches Robert Wagner and Letty Olivarez will coach the team. ASU was elite, winning National Championships in 2008 and 2011 and regularly making trips to the Women's College World Series, under former coach Clint Myers, however in two seasons under Nicholson ASU did not make it out of the regional round.

It will be interesting to see if ASU -- which had very little softball tradition before Myers arrived -- can make it back to the elite level in the sport. It starts with finding a full time coach for the 2017 season.

How far can ASU Women's Basketball go?

While Bobby Hurley is aiming to get his team into the NCAA Tournament, Charli Turner Thorne is aiming to get her team to the Final Four. ASU finished their non-conference slate at 9-3 and the team has the makings of another Sweet 16 run.

Chip Lindsey's Offense

For the first time under Todd Graham, the Sun Devils will boast a new offensive coordinator. Watching Southern Miss play in its bowl game, the ASU offense should not change drastically from the Mike Norvell era. They will still go fast and spread people out.

Still, Graham lets his offensive coordinators have complete control over the offense so Lindsey's arrival is worth keeping an eye on.

The rise of ASU Volleyball

Despite their first round exit in the NCAA Tournament, the ASU volleyball team tallied perhaps its best season in school history and their best under current head coach Jason Watson. The program seems to be in great hands and expect good things in 2016.

The potential of new ASU uniforms

ASU unveiled a brand new set of uniforms in 2015, switching apparel companies from Nike to adidas. While the base uniforms most likely won't change, it will be interesting to see if any new alternates make their way into ASU's locker room in 2016.

Two new sports

While most athletic programs are cutting programs, ASU is adding two new sports for the 2017-2018 academic year. Women's Triathlon and women's lacrosse will be coming to Tempe starting in 2017 with the plans and groundwork for the two programs being laid in 2016.

Can ASU football breakthrough?

There is little doubt that Todd Graham has had a very successful four seasons in Tempe. ASU has won 10 games twice and a Pac-12 South Title. However, the Sun Devils have yet to play in a New Years Six bowl game (or equivalent) or even an Alamo Bowl.

Next year probably won't be that year, with a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator. More likely, the Sun Devils will be building towards the 2017 season.

Did we miss anything? If you have a storyline that you think should have been included drop a comment below.