After a disappointing 2021-22 campaign in which the Sun Devils finished the season with a 14-17 record and a first-round loss in the Pac-12 tournament, coach Bobby Hurley’s squad is revamped and in able to compete for an NCAA tournament. appearance this coming season. Here are five new Sun Devils you need to know ahead of ASU’s season opener against Tarleton on Nov. 7.
After an up-and-down freshman year at Michigan, the 6-foot-1 sophomore guard is poised to be the next name in a long list of transfer guards who have had a significant impact on ‘Guard U’ .
Last year, after averaging just 11 minutes per game during the regular season and the Big Ten tournament for a Michigan team stacked with guard depth, Frankie Collins shone when the lights were brightest. With Wolverines starting point guard DeVante’ Jones in concussion protocols, Collins got his first collegiate starts in Michigan’s first two games of the NCAA Tournament.
Collins’ spark led Michigan’s No. 11 seed to the Sweet 16, highlighted by a performance of 14 points, six rebounds and two assists in Michigan’s opener against the sixth seed. Colorado State.
Thanks to two practices open to the media, Collins is among the most vocal players on both sides’ roster.
His ability to quickly develop a leadership role translated into relationships on the field with other key players on the Sun Devils roster. During a press conference last week, Collins specifically cited second Marcus Bagley as a player he has developed a strong partnership with on the pitch.
“Guys like Marcus, I just found him,” Collins said. “It doesn’t matter where it is on the ground. I just found it.”
If he’s not a starter, Collins will surely be a fixture in Hurley’s rotation to start the upcoming season. Possibly the best point guard for the Sun Devils, he will be essential for ASU to exceed expectations and reach their ceiling this year.
“Frankie’s arrival has definitely been a great addition to our backcourt,” junior guard DJ Horne said. “He’s a versatile point guard. I’m going to love playing alongside him this year.”
After gaining Pac-12 experience in the 2018-19 season as a rookie coming off the bench at Oregon State Center, Warren Washington was transferred to Nevada, where he started 46 of his 48 games. He averaged just over 10 points per game over two seasons with the Wolfpack.
During its time in Nevada, the 7-footer showed steady improvement as a rim protector. As a junior, Washington increased to 1.2 blocks per game, doubling his block rate from the previous year.
Now a senior, Washington’s extensive college basketball experience could propel him into ASU’s starting center role to start the upcoming season. Hurley said Washington has made a strong impression so far this offseason.
“Warren Washington was a presence around the basket, with his length and shot blocking, and with his finishing over the edge,” Hurley said.
Starter or not, Washington’s impact on the Sun Devils this season won’t be limited to his two-way presence underneath – he could also serve as a mentor for the return of Enoch Boakye, whose style of play mirrors that of the Washington game at Nevada.
After a stellar career at Wagner High School in San Antonio, Texas that included a nomination to the McDonald’s All-American team, a true freshman, and a 55th-ranked rookie in the nation, Austin Nunez chose the ‘ASU rather than offers from powers like Baylor, Oregon, and Virginia, among others. The 6-foot-2 guard’s volume score put him on the map at Wagner, where he averaged 28.1 points per game his senior year.
A common theme of ASU’s first media availability last week was Hurley’s presence helping to consistently bring dynamic guards to the program, who many still refer to as “Guard U.” Based on Nunez’s tweet announcing his commitment to ASU, he shares this sentiment:
Known for getting hot behind the arc, the athletic southpaw has learned to use the space created by his precision shooting to find driving routes to the basket. A good edge finisher for his size, scoring shouldn’t be a concern for Nunez.
Nunez may find it difficult to carve out a consistent spot in the Sun Devils rotation this coming season due to their experience and depth at guard. His key to playing time this season will likely be his reliability as an outside shooter.
Duke Brennan and Malcolm Flaggs
Hailing from Hillcrest Prep, these two high school teammates will provide depth to the Sun Devils’ wings in their freshman year at ASU.
Duke Brennan’s 6-foot-10, 235-pound frame will give the Sun Devils extra depth in the frontcourt. He has the athleticism and body control to play forward, which makes him an intriguing option to play alongside a center against sizeable opponents.
He also has the engine to provide the Sun Devils with intangible, off-stats production.
“Duke is a helmet, lunch bucket type guy,” Hurley said during his engagement. “He’s really going to fight, rebound and defend. He’s playing hard. He’s playing with an advantage.”
Malcolm Flaggs, a 6-foot-6 jumbo guard who can handle the ball and shoot, also has the size and skill set to provide ASU with depth this year. In high school, he used his size to attack smaller guards and flashed the ability to create his own shot on offense.
Hurley is no doubt excited to coach the two local stars.
“Signing these two guys to the program was a good day for the Sun Devils,” Hurley said.
Your first chance to see Sun Devil men’s basketball in action is this weekend’s MoonLIT Madness event at Sun Devil Track at 9:45 p.m. on Friday, October 21.
Edited by Walker Smith, David Rodish and Grace Copperthite.
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