Following a three-game preseason slate, the Arizona State Sun Devils begin their out-of-conference schedule Friday night against the Idaho State Bengals at Wells Fargo Arena.
Coming off a 15-18 season last year, the Sun Devils bring in freshmen Remy Martin and Kimani Lawrence along with redshirt freshmen Romello White and Vitaliy Shibel, both of whom had to sit out last season, White due to transfer rules and Shibel because of an ACL tear.
But ASU still runs through senior guards Shannon Evans, Tra Holder and Kodi Justice.
Coach Bobby Hurley’s backcourt have been entrusted as leaders both because of their on-court production, but off-the-court ability, as well.
“I have a high-level trust for our seniors and what they’ve meant to the program and me personally,” Hurley said. “They’ve all had very good individual careers and the focus those guys have at playing at a high level.”
With White’s availability Friday undetermined, Lawrence will likely start alongside Shibel in the frontcourt, rounding out the five for the Sun Devils.
On the otherside of the court will be an Idaho State team that finished 6-26 in the Big Sky Conference last season and lost its top scorer in Ethan Telfair.
However, the Bengals do return their second, third and fourth best scorers from a season ago in sophomore guard Brandon Boyd, senior guard Geno Luzcando and redshirt junior center Novak Topalovic. Those three contributed 33 points per game to the Idaho State cause.
Topalovic could pose the biggest problems, especially if White doesn’t play. Despite averaging about six rebounds per game, his 7-foot, 230 pound frame is larger than any Sun Devil.
A Big Sky opponent at home does not guarantee an ASU win. In Hurley’s first game in Tempe, the Sun Devils lost to Sacramento State to begin the 2015-16 season.
But Hurley believes his team is ready to go after a long preseason buildup.
“I can just tell and get a sense that our guys are super excited to play,” Hurley said. “Now the season is in front of us and you can really sense the enthusiasm of that.”