One of the key cogs in Arizona State’s late season turnaround received his flowers on Tuesday.
Forward Jalen Graham was named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team. The junior was the Sun Devils’ most consistent scoring threat during the stretch where the team won four games in a row and seven of their final eight.
achievement unlocked— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) March 8, 2022
2nd Team All-Pac-12 honors for JG! pic.twitter.com/Pl1EZJStYh
The acknowledgment of Graham as one of the conference’s best players is made even more remarkable after putting his whole season into context, especially the very beginning.
Graham missed the first two games of the season on the COVID-19 exempt list. When he returned, he was noticeably off from the level of play he displays when at his zenith on the court.
Through the first 10 games he played, Graham was averaging only 5.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. The long wingspan of Graham that allowed him to become one of the best at blocking shots in the conference during his sophomore year only managed 1.0 blocks per game during that stretch.
Now contrast those numbers to how Graham, and the team as a whole finished. There is a direct correlation between Graham’s resurgence and the hot streak the team is riding into the Pac-12 Tournament.
At the season’s conclusion, Graham had nearly doubled his point average from the first 10 games to 10.1 points per game. Seven times in the Sun Devils’ final 10 games, Graham scored in double figures.
He was a major reason the team upset UCLA in February. In that contest, Graham knocked down several clutch free-throws and was an unmistakable presence in the paint. His close-range one-handed push shot is one of the toughest individual shots to stop in the entire conference.
Marreon Jackson Receives All-Defensive Honorable Mention
Marreon Jackson was also acknowledged on Tuesday as a Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention. The graduate transfer from Toledo is coming off his best defensive game of the season against Stanford, where he had six steals.
If Arizona State is going to make an unlikely run at a tournament bid, both Graham and Jackson will have to live up to their All-Conference level of play in Las Vegas.