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ASU Basketball Preseason Roundtable: Thoughts and predictions for the upcoming season

Our basketball coverage team gives their take on the upcoming season in this preseason preview roundtable.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball season is just one day away, but does anyone really know what to expect out of this year's Arizona State Sun Devils?

Bobby Hurley's team has been projected by most to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12, but with one of the most talented backcourts in the conference and a post full of potential, it's certainly possible Arizona State navigates its way through a murky bottom half of the league with more success than most are predicting.

To completely preview this upcoming campaign, our basketball coverage team gives their thoughts and predictions for this Sun Devil team below.

Our Panel:

Connor Pelton - Co-Managing Editor

Kaelen Jones - Co-Managing Editor

Zac Pacleb - Basketball Videographer/Writer

Miles Todd - Basketball Videographer/Writer

Q: Year two of the Bobby Hurley era is upon us. What are you looking forward to the most?

Todd: I’m looking forward to watching this offense develop and be successful. You could tell last year that they were playing a very high tempo offense and this year it could be even more fun with Shannon Evans II in the mix now. Hurley also said earlier this year that they were going to shoot a lot of three’s and that’s always a fun time.

Pacleb: I want to see what Tra Holder looks like this year. He made a fantastic jump as a sophomore, and now he'll have a bit more help on the offensive end with Kodi Justice, Torian Graham and Shannon Evans. He told me early in the year that he's really comfortable off the ball, so he'll be able to look for his own shot in a less stressful situation than having to dominate the ball.

Jones: What can he do with what's currently available to him? Losing so many veterans and size from last year's squad puts Hurley in a position where he'll need to rely on more the play of his guards. With the personnel he has available at his disposal--which is limited--can he somehow improve from last year? I'm excited to see how he tinkers with the lineup and configures it.

Pelton: I want to see what Hurley can do now that he has some of his own players in the program. This is completely his team now, and after a "Year Zero" season of sorts last year we can truly start to judge him through on-court results.

How quickly do the Buffalo transfers mesh with Tra Holder in the backcourt? Is Sam Cunliffe everything this coaching staff envisioned? Those are the questions that keep me up at night, and I'm looking forward to finding the answers.

Q: What would you consider success for Arizona State this season?

Todd: Going over .500. This team if going to be a blast to watch on offense but there’s two ends of the floor. The defense was a little shaky in the exhibition match against UC Santa Cruz. Granted the season just started so for all I know they were shaking off the rust. However, with some of the tough teams they will face on the road, both conference and nonconference, they’re defense is going to need to improve if they have a chance of going over .500.

Pacleb: Ending at .500 would be pretty solid. ASU's nonconference schedule is so, so gnarly once again, so it's a little difficult to find wins early for ASU, but that's when it'll have to compile a lot of its victories.

Jones: If Arizona State can do any two of the following, I'd consider it a success: post an overall record above .500, go .400 or better in Pac-12 play, reach the NCAA Tournament, and average a home attendance exceeding 6,000 per game.

Pelton: I agree with my three counterparts. With as tough a schedule as this team is going to play, I think an over .500 season with a shot at making a postseason tournament should be considered a success. I really like the pieces Hurley has, but we are still a year or two away from NCAA Tournament expectations.

Q: Which player (or players) should Sun Devil fans be keeping an eye on this season?

Todd: Shannon Evans II and Sam Cunliffe. After redshirting last year Evans finally gets to hit the floor in a Sun Devil jersey. Since it looks like Hurley will be implementing a lot of small ball, having Evans and Tra Holder on the floor together could be the stuff that dreams are made of. Both like to drive and kick and can see the floor very well.

As far as Cunliffe is concerned, the freshman was a very high rated recruit and is very athletic. He has HUGE potential to be a star with him being as good as he is as a freshman, you want to keep an eye on him so you can see him improve over the years.

Pacleb: Jethro Tshisumpa. He has a high ceiling as a post player, and his raw athleticism is striking, but he's still learning a lot about the game. ASU's guards will be just fine, but Tshisumpa is ASU's biggest body, and if he can develop well this season and gain confidence, next season should be a lot more fun for everyone involved.

Jones: Sam Cunliffe (he's nice, as they say) and Jethro Tshisumpa.

Pelton: Evans and Cunliffe are good answers (as is Tshisumpa, although I think next season will be where he really shines), but I'm going to roll with Torian Graham. Graham's trip to Division-I basketball has been a long-time coming, but after landing at his fourth school, the five-star recruit has finally found a home. His explosiveness and ability to score from anywhere on the floor should compliment the play of Holder and Evans nicely.

Q: What is your bold prediction for the year?

Todd: Bold prediction would be that they get at least to the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. Who knows, maybe they beat Arizona in the last game of the season, carry that momentum into the tournament and use it to get very far. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Pacleb: Tshisumpa dunks on Oregon's Jordan Bell or Chris Boucher. If you don't know why that's bold, go look at those two's blocked shots.

Jones: The Sun Devils make the NCAA Tournament!

Pelton: Arizona State beats Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, and Xavier in four days to win the Tire Pros Invitational.

Q: Give your final season record and a prediction for where this team finishes in the conference.

Todd: 14-17, 9th in the Pac-12

Pacleb: 13-18, 11th in the Pac-12.

Jones: 16-15, 9th in the Pac-12.

Pelton: 12-19, 11th in the Pac-12.


Pelton Jones Pacleb Todd
5 technical fouls throughout the season for Hurley. Push Under Under Push
2.5 players who average 10-plus points per game. Over Under Over Over
8.5 wins in non-conference play. Under Under Under Under