Nov 6, 2023 - News

ASU basketball looks to ride 2022-23 success in last Pac-12 season

Coach Bobby Hurley in March. Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Sun Devil basketball returns Wednesday looking to capitalize on last season's success and make a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament one more time before ASU heads to the Big 12.

Why it matters: With only one of the Devils' top five scorers returning this season, observers are skeptical the team can repeat its success from last season. But head coach Bobby Hurley has built his ASU career on defying expectations.

Catch up quick: The Devils managed one of the best records (23-13) in program history last year with just two of its top six scorers returning from the year prior.

  • They made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019 and tied the most games won since the James Harden era in 2009.

What we're watching: The new guys, who include seven transfers, a junior college addition and two high school recruits.

  • At Pac-12 media day last month, Hurley called out center Shawn Phillips Jr. (LSU transfer) and wing Kamari Lands (Louisville transfer) as early practice standouts. Both athletes played high school ball in the Valley.

What they're saying: "We like to find guys that were undervalued, and I think we were able to come up with a couple of gems," Hurley told reporters.

The intrigue: The new team played in an exhibition tour across Europe over the summer in hopes of building chemistry on and off the court.

Zoom in: The Sun Devils are looking down a relatively easy schedule, with only four of their 30 regular-season opponents ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 poll, the Arizona Republic reports.

What's next: ASU will enter the competitive Big 12 conference next year with at least two big-shot recruits.

  • 6-foot-11 big man Jaden Smith and 6-foot-8 forward Amier Ali committed to the Sun Devils last month.
  • Both turned down offers from historically better programs and cited a desire to play for Hurley as their motivation, Arizona Sports reports.

Speaking of Hurley, the university extended his contract through 2026 earlier this year.

  • Since he took over the team in 2015 he's gone 141-113 and three of his teams have appeared in the conference tournament.
  • He would have taken a fourth in 2020, but the pandemic upended the tournament, The Athletic reported.
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