Arizona State men’s basketball has different preseason expectations in 2021 than the program was bestowed in 2020. The Sun Devils were picked seventh earlier today by the media, five spots lower than the daunting second place spot they were awarded last year.
While the expectations for the program are lower, the expectations for their principal star Marcus Bagley have never been higher.
Today made it official. Bagley is a first-team All-Pac-12 pick in the preseason poll. It was almost as if it was inscribed in stone the moment he announced his return to play for the Sun Devils. An anointment of the man who entered Tempe last year with so much promise, and returns to the burgeoning city one year wiser, with his mind set on redemption.
Last season, Bagley played in just 12 games. He was harbored at two separate points in the season with leg injuries. Still, when healthy, or somewhere close, he managed to put up competitive numbers. He was one of just four players to average over 10 points per contest, and added a team high 6.2 rebounds as well.
Bagley is not just expected to be a better player, he has stated his intention to be a better teammate. None of those volume scorers ahead of him from last season’s roster remain. Aside from his anticipated increase in on-court production, Bagley has told the media he intends to inject a more vocal style of leadership with this season’s roster, filled primarily with newcomers.
Sun Devil coach Bobby Hurley received the elating phone call earlier this summer from Bagley, who announced on the other end of the line he would return. Hurley doesn’t have a set role for his star player, but expects Bagley to play much more frequently on the perimeter this season.
If health is no object, Bagley will be a star in the Pac-12 conference. The team he is now the star of is fresh clay to mold, if his leadership strategy sticks, the man they call ‘Peanut’ could crack open a higher level of play for both himself and his team this season.