It’s never too early to start thinking about the next college basketball season.
The Sun Devils had a couple of big men transfer from the program in recent weeks (freshmen Jethro Tshisumpa and Andre Adams) opening two scholarship slots to be filled by the 2017-18 season.
With three four-star recruits and a non-rated JUCO transfer, Arizona State currently boasts the 14th best recruiting class in the nation and fifth best in the Pac-12 according to 247sports.com.
Though its unclear exactly who Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils are targeting thus far, it never hurts to take a stab at a few players that would be a good fit as Sun Devils next season.
Staff writers Josiah Destin and Maxwell Madden have a few players in mind that may end up in Tempe.
Mark Donnal: (6-foot-9, 240 pounds) senior from Michigan
The situation in ASU’s front court isn’t as dire as it seems. A solid recruiting performance from Hurley has landed talented young forwards in Kenny Wooten, Kimani Lawrence and Vitaliy Shibel, however there is a need for experience for the Devils down low. That’s where Donnal comes in.
Before getting passed by sophomore standout Moritz Wagner, the Montclova, Ohio native played in 24 games his junior season, tallying 7.8 points and 3.7 rebounds. That experience could help lead what will be a very young front court.
Duby Okeke (6-foot-8, 230 pounds) redshirt junior from Winthrop
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Sun Devils ranked very low in total blocked shots last year, finishing at 184th in the country with 3.2 per contest. That’s where Okeke makes a solid fit.
From Jonesboro, Georgia became Winthrop’s career leader in blocked shots after amassing a total of 149 after last year’s campaign. He’s another option for an experienced big man down low that add a lot to this Arizona State roster defensively.
Jaylen Poysner (6-foot-4, 180 pounds) junior from UNLV
Sun Devil nation should remember this name.
Poysner, a shooting guard from Malton, Ontario Canada, tallied 20 points, four assists and two steals against ASU last December in Tempe. Arizona State has nine guards on the roster, five of whom will be seniors this coming season. Poysner has good size and demonstrated an ability to score against very good teams last year, adding 16, 19 and 10 against Duke, TCU and Kansas, respectively.
His presence would alleviate some of the scoring pressure that will inevitably fall upon Tra Holder and Shannon Evans’s shoulders next season.
Matur Maker: (6-foot-10, 200 pounds) three-star from Athlete Institute Basketball Academy (Orangeville, Ont., Canada)
This not as hyped up, but dangerously talented version of his brother, Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker, may legitimately end up at ASU. Like his brother, Maker’s speed, height and shooting accuracy allow him to play any five positions on the floor.
Though he has unofficially visited Kansas (June 23) and Kentucky (Nov. 30), Maker has narrowed down his list to ASU and Indiana.
Matthew Atewe (6-foot-9, 250 pounds) and Noah Dickerson (6-foot-8, 245 pounds) both juniors from Washington
Both of these, or at least one of them would add even greater to Hurley’s surplus of height in 2017-18. Dickerson averaged 12.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his sophomore season, and while Atewe averaged nearly two points and two rebounds a game, at 250 pounds, he’d be the biggest or even strongest player on the court for the Sun Devils. Already used to the Pac-12 and its style of play, the two may want to stay local.
With a fan base who has been dying for a height advantage on the floor the past two seasons, either one of these two could provide some serious depth to the Sun Devils’ line up.
Kendall Smith (6-foot-3, 190) redshirt senior from Cal State Northridge
Originally a four-star and the 88th best player in ESPN’s top 100 in the class of 2013, Smith played a full season at UNLV before taking a redshirt and transferring to CSUN where he dominated as a Matador. He led the Matadors in points per game in both his sophomore (15.3) and junior (16.7) seasons, while tallying a team high 4.8 assists per game in his junior year.
Though the Sun Devils are loaded potential starting guards in Shannon Evans, Tra Holder and Kodi Justice, no other perimiter players on their roster played over 50 minutes last season. Smith being a graduate transfer, could go out with a bang his senior year, Torian Graham style.