Herb Sendek and the ASU men's basketball team have been a welcomed surprise in the Valley this season. Picked to finish 11th in the Pac-12 during the preseason, the Sun Devils have been mighty impressive through 20 games, winning 16 and going 5-2 in conference play.
Yet until Saturday's 78-60 thrashing of UCLA at Wells Fargo Arena, few around the country took the Sun Devils seriously. While ASU still has 11 games left in conference play, including seven away from Tempe, the dialogue has changed in recent days regarding the program and an NCAA tournament bid may still be up for grabs.
The Sun Devils' staggering turnaround this season is not simply a result of any one player, but senior Carrick Felix's maturation on and off the court has gone a long way towards making ASU a contender in the Pac-12.
Through 20 games, Felix leads the team in rebounding (8.2 boards per game) and is second in scoring (15.1 points per game). During the team's recent two-game home sweep of the Southern California schools, the senior forward came to play, recording double-doubles in both contests.
For his efforts, Felix was named ESPN.com's National Player of the Week by Andy Katz.
"Now everyone thinks of Jahii Carson when they think of Arizona State," said Katz. "But if Carrick Felix can perform like [he did this week] on a regular basis, give them double-doubles, then suddenly ASU is a much more dangerous team in the Pac-12."