Coming into the 2017-18 campaign, the Arizona State Sun Devils (1-0, 0-0) had retooled their front court by adding promising freshmen Kimani Lawrence and Romello White and retaining big men from last year like sophomore Ramon Vila.
But during Friday’s season opener against Idaho State at Wells Fargo Arena, Arizona State would have none of them.
Sources within the program made it known that Vila had left the program just under an hour before tip, Lawrence was seen walking around in a boot on his left foot before the game and White remained in street clothes — again.
ASU head coach Bobby Hurley addressed each issue following the Sun Devils’ 94-74 victory.
“(Lawrence) hurt his foot, what we’re going to do is be very conservative with (him) through the weekend,” Hurley said of his 6 foot 8 freshman forward. “He’s going to get reevaluated on Monday and then we’ll see where we’re at for Tuesday’s game.”
White has now played in just one of ASU’s first four contests -- including the preseason -- after a violation of team rules dating back to last season.
“He’s doing all the right things, we’re hopeful he’ll be out there soon,” Hurley said of White. “He’ll get some practices coming into this game but he’s still game to game at this point”
Hurley didn’t cite exactly what it was that caused Vila to leave the program, but hinted that it may have stemmed from a lack of playing time. With such a talented class of forwards and centers coming in, it was likely that the 6 foot 8 spaniard wasn’t likely to get a ton of time on the court with ASU — especially after averaging 2.6 points and two rebounds per game in his first season.
The Sun Devils were down to just six scholarship players on the roster for their opening night contest, a sight familiar to many who witnessed ASU often forced to rely on a similar number of bodies all last season.
It didn’t seem to matter however, as junior college transfer De’Quon Lake put on a show Friday night against the Bengals. The tallest player on Arizona State’s roster finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and a 20 point plus/minus.
The Sun Devils’ guards finished with 17 assists on the night. For a player participating in his first game at the division one level, it took a while to get used to the speed and skill of his teammates.
“They pass it really quick so I have to get used to that,” Lake said of his senior guards. “In the beginning I couldn’t really adjust to it but now I have.”
Lake was soft-spoken after the game, senior guard Shannon Evans II mentioned he’s “not a talker,” but that didn’t mean he wasn’t aggressive on the court. Lake sent an Idaho State shot hurdling the wrong direction into the seats midway through the first half, the second of three he managed on the night.
“Oh, I mean that felt good,” Lake said. “I kinda stared him down but I tried not to stare him down too much ‘cause the tech was on me.”
Lake wasn’t the only one that stepped up for the Sun Devils on Friday, as freshman guard Remy Martin provided a spark on both sides of the floor and gave Arizona State fans a glimpse of the future of ASU basketball. Martin tallied 12 points, four rebounds, five assists and was inches away from a couple steals.
“He’s way past where I was,” Evans II said. “He’s doing great, he’s scoring the ball, passing, defending, bringing energy... when I leave, when me, Tra (Holder) and Kodi (Justice) leave, I think Hurley is gonna give him the keys to this program.”