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ASU Basketball: Sun Devils gathering early attention

Pre-season polls

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 22 Oregon State at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The last time Arizona State was ranked in the preseason AP Top-25 men’s college basketball poll, George W. Bush was President, “Whatever You Like” by T.I. was the number one song in the United States, and some sophomore guard named James Harden was preparing for his sophomore season in Tempe.

This year, the Sun Devils are poised to end their streak of starting the season unranked.

On Tuesday,’s Andy Katz released his annual preseason men’s college basketball power rankings and had ASU slotted at No. 14. Katz also said ASU was his pick to win the Pac-12.

If that prediction were to come true, it would make this Sun Devil basketball team the first in school history to ever win a regular season Pac-12 title.

After taking a serious look at entering the NBA Draft, both Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge Jr. will return to the team for their senior season.

Katz has Martin as the No. 4 returning player in the country, and Verge Jr, primarily coming off the bench, averaged 14.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists during the 2019-2020 season.

College basketball insider John Rothstein also had ASU at No. 14.

Speaking of Harden, ASU will have two of their highest-ranked incoming freshmen recruits since the former NBA Most Valuable Player committed to ASU prior to the 2007-2008 season.

The gem of the 2020 class is incoming five-star freshman shooting guard Josh Christopher. The 6-foot-5 freshman is the highest ranked basketball recruit in Sun Devil history, taking the place of Harden.

Complimenting Christopher will be four-star recruit Marcus Bagley, who is the younger brother of Marvin Bagley, a power forward for the Sacramento Kings.

Both players were ranked in Rothstein’s 25 impact freshmen for the upcoming season. Across the board, preseason confidence is high in this Sun Devil team.

CBS Sports has the Sun Devils at No. 25.

NBC Sports had ASU at No. 24.

Chris Dortch’s Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook places the team at No. 24.

Last season, the Sun Devils went 20-11 overall and 11-7 in conference competition. The team was preparing for its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance before the outbreak of COVID-19 caused its cancellation.

The 2008-2009 team led by Harden was one of the most successful in school history, placing second in the conference tournament and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

With the return of two of the teams leading scorers and the addition of two elite freshmen, ASU men’s basketball might have the pieces in place to go a few steps further this season.