2016-2017 Season Review
Bobby Hurley’s second season as the head coach at Arizona State didn’t go much better than the first, as the Sun Devils went 15-18 overall and 7-11 in Pac-12 play after going 15-17 and 5-13 in Hurley’s first season. They had just one win over a NCAA Tournament team, an 83-82 win over USC at the end of February. The Sun Devils were just flat out non competitive in many games too, as they lost 8 games by 15+ points. That included a 19 point loss to a 14-16 UNI team and a 15 point loss to a 13-18 Washington State squad. The poor play mixed with some off the court distractions made for a not so fun season in Tempe.
Arizona State’s leading scorer last season was Torian Graham and he is now gone after graduating. Graham scored 18.6 PPG, hit a team high 108 threes and grabbed 4.2 RPG. Also lost to graduation was the Sun Devils’ leading rebounder in Obinna Oleka. The big man averaged 12.5 PPG and 9.9 RPG. His toughness and physicality will be deeply missed in the upcoming season. Besides the two graduations, the Sun Devils also had six players who were on their roster to start the season last year transfer. The most notable one was Sam Cunliffe, who transferred to Kansas just ten games into his career in Tempe. Cunliffe was a four star guard that put up 9.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG during his brief tenure at Arizona State. Andre Adams, a 6’9 forward that appeared in 14 games last season, transferred to Southern Utah, while 6’10 big man Jethro Tshisumpa, who appeared in 26 games, also transferred. Maurice O’Field, Romaine Jackson and Chris Odinu, three guys that didn’t see much of the court last season, also decided to transfer.
While the Sun Devils lost a boatload of players, they do return some nice players, specifically in the back court. Tra Holder, a 6’1 senior guard, was second on the team in scoring last season with 16.2 PPG. He also grabbed 3.7 boards a game, dished out 3.2 assists and shot 36.8% from three. With Torian Graham gone, Holder could put up even bigger numbers this upcoming season.
Another talented guard that returns is senior Shannon Evans. Evans put up some big numbers in his own right last season, averaging 15.0/3.3/4.4. He also had 1.3 steals per game and hit 72 threes. The Sun Devils will lean heavily on the duo of Holder and Evans next season, which could lead to some massive numbers between the two of them.
Kodi Justice is another senior guard that returns for ASU. Justice is a knock down shooter from the outside, as he hit 63 threes last season at a 41.7% clip. Justice averaged 9.2 PPG, as well as 1.3 steals. He is a great leader that plays hard on both ends of the floor. The lone returner in the front court is 6’8 sophomore Ramon Villa. Villa only played 12.3 minutes a game last season, but did shoot 64.7% from the field. With the front court being so barren, Villa will see his role expand this season.
Bobby Hurley brings in 247Sports’ 28th ranked recruiting class in the nation and the 8th ranked in the Pac-12. Kimani Lawrence is a four star SF that is ranked #54 in the 2017 class. Lawrence, who is 6’7, is a guy that excels on both ends of the floor. He rebounds well for a forward and can guard multiple positions, which is key considering how thin the front court will be for the Sun Devils. Remy Martin, the #86 rated player in the nation, is a 5’11 PG that is super quick. Martin excels in transition and is great at attacking the rim and finishing. De’Quon Lake is a JUCO transfer from Iowa Western CC that has two years of eligibility remaining. Lake is 6’10, so he’ll likely see a role in the front court right away. He averaged 13.5 PPG and 7.2 RPG last season at Iowa Western. Mickey Mitchell, a 6’7 forward, transferred from Ohio State after his freshman season and will be eligible for the second semester. While at OSU, Mitchell appeared in 23 games and started in 7 of those games. Vitaliy Shibel is a freshman that missed last season after injuring his knee. From Ukraine, the 6’9 forward is a lefty that can shoot the three. Romello White was part of the 2016 recruiting class for Bobby Hurley, but he didn’t play last season because of eligibility issues. The 6’8 forward was a four star, top 100 recruit that is athletic, tough and physical down low. That toughness and physicality will be important in replacing Oleka.
Bobby Hurley better hope that Arizona State is going to give him time to turn things around (which I think they should) because this likely won’t be the year the Sun Devils break out. Hurley is starting to bring in some quality recruits, such as getting Romello White late in the 2016 class and bringing in Kimani Lawrence this year. He has some really talented guards in Holder and Evans, but the lack of depth and the thin front court will probably be too much to overcome this season. That being said, this will be a team that will be fun to watch at times and tracking the numbers Holder and Evans put up should be interesting. Sun Devil fans need to stay patient with Hurley, as this isn’t a rebuilding process that will be quick and easy.