Arizona State Basketball is in a constant state of flux.
Just when it seemed that the team was beginning to jell, winning 22 games for the first time since the 2009-10 season and placing several players on the All-Pac-12 team, the Sun Devils are back to square one.
Granted, they are better off now that Jahii Carson has decided to return for another year, yet it will be a struggle for Herb Sendek’s team to return to the 20-game win plateau in 2013-14.
The team brings in three new additions and loses four players along with their long-time Associate Head Coach. Here is the breakdown of all the pluses and minuses in the upcoming season.
Plus: Brandan Kearney
Brandan Kearney elected to transfer to Arizona State midway through his sophomore season at Michigan State. He will be eligible to begin play in January 2014 for the Sun Devils.
Kearney, who saw his minutes nearly double in his sophomore season, didn’t see an increase in production, averaging a mere 2.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game.
Kearney left Michigan State after he was unhappy coming off the bench for Coach Tom Izzo.
If Kearney opts to play in January for the Sun Devils, it will be a shortened junior season; if he waits until the fall of 2014, he will be able to play two complete seasons.
Kearney enrolled at Arizona State in January and will be able to practice with the team and battle for a starting position. He is a versatile player that can make an immediate impact with Jahii Carson and Evan Gordon in the backcourt.
Minus: Carrick Felix
Carrick Felix was the heart and soul of this team this past year. After two seasons on a struggling squad, Felix came into his own as a senior.
In two seasons at Arizona State, Felix averaged 7.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He shot 41 percent from the field and 28 percent from three-point territory. He also had zero career double-doubles; last season, he recorded three in a one-week span.
After the 2012-13 regular season, he led the Pac-12 with 12 double-doubles, nine of them in-conference. His 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game were second best in the Pac-12 behind Stanford’s Dwight Powell with 15.6 points and 8.8 boards.
Felix finished the season in the top 15 of six categories in the Pac-12, including No. 6 in steals and No. 7 in rebounds. His field-goal percentage jumped to 51 percent and his three-point shooting improved to 36 percent.
He started all 31 games and led the Devils in field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds and steals. His 14.2 points and 34 blocks were second best on the team as well. He scored in double digits in 25 games last season and tallied 20 or more in seven games, including 22 in his final regular-season game against rival Arizona.
The numbers are astounding, and Felix was named to the second-team All-Pac-12 as well as the exclusive Pac-12 All-Defense team with teammate Jordan Bachynski.
Plus: Egor Koulechov
- Position: Small Forward
- High School: The Sagemont School in Weston, Florida
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 190
The wing will look to fill the hole vacated by Felix; he has the long-range accuracy that Felix possessed but will have to work on his defense to contend at the Pac-12 level of play.
Koulechov and his family left his native Russia for Israel when he was seven years old. He then he left his family in Israel to pursue his dream of playing basketball in America, moving to Florida.
He returned home last summer and played for Israel’s U-18 basketball team, where he averaged 19.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Minus: Chris Colvin
Chris Colvin transferred to Arizona State as a junior from Palm Beach Community College and started at the point guard position for 17 of the 31 games in the 2011-12 season. The team was dreadful that year, winning only 10 games all season, four in-conference.
Colvin was relegated to backup point guard with freshman phenom Jahii Carson taking over in the 2012-13 season. His minutes decreased from 25 minutes per game to 21 and his points per game dropped as well.
Colvin was a serviceable backup to Carson, but it was evident why the Sun Devils only won 10 games with him running the point the season prior.
He was a decent defender tallying 104 rebounds, 30 steals and four blocked shots but his shooting percentages left plenty to be desired. He shot 39.5 percent from the field, 30.5 percent beyond the arc and a dismal 42.3 percent from the charity stripe.
He did make a late-season surge, starting the last nine games at the shooting guard position, but it was based more upon Evan Gordon struggling than Colvin’s performance.
Plus: Chance Murray
- Position: Shooting Guard
- High School: Frederick Price H.S. Los Angeles, Calif.
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 180
Murray had offers from competing Pac-12 schools in Stanford and Washington State, but chose Arizona State last September. 247 Sports ranks Murray as the No. 42 shooting guard in the country and the No. 14 recruit in California.
Look for Murray to fill the hole vacated by Chris Colvin as backup point guard. He could perhaps even battle Evan Gordon for the starting shooting guard position as Colvin did at the end of the 2012-13 season.
Minus: Ruslan Pateev
The 7’0″, 231 pound center from Moscow, Russia played 20 games in his freshman season and saw action in nearly every game the next three seasons. He was one of only four players over 7’0″ to ever play at Arizona State.
Although his points per game never really lit up, his shooting percentage was always among the best on the team. He led the team last season, hitting 35-of-50 for 58.3 percent from the field while his 58-percent free throw shooting was fifth best.
Pateev has been a catalyst coming off the bench and sparking the crowd and Sun Devils to several victories including a 12-point, eight-rebound effort against a Cal team that had beaten every other team in the Pac-12.
House of Sparky had this quote from Sendek about Pateev:
After the game, Coach Sendek praised Pateev for his commitment to the team and called him, “the ultimate team player.”
Associate Head Coach Dedrique Taylor joined the Sun Devils coaching staff with head coach Herb Sendek in 2006. Taylor left Arizona State after the 2012-13 season to become the head coach at Cal State Fullerton.
Taylor graduated from the University of California-Davis, so returning to his home state as a head coach is a dream come true for the 38-year old Taylor.
He was named to the top 25 High-Major Assistant Coaches in the nation by College Insider and will look to improve the Titans’ program that finished 14-18 overall and 6-12 in the Big West under interim coach Andy Newman.
CSUF Athletic director Jim Donovan couldn’t be happier that Taylor is coming to back to California:
“I think Dedrique is a perfect fit for the Cal State Fullerton program,” Donovan said.“His ties to Southern California will help us immensely in our recruiting efforts and his experience in a major conference like the Pac-12 will serve him well in helping bring our program into the upper echelons of the Big West Conference and compete for championships.”
Also departing the Sun Devils is guard Joey Hormes, whose contribution to the team was seen on the practice court. The transfer student from nearby Glendale Community College registered on the stat board playing a minute in the Nov. 24 matchup versus Creighton.