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Transfers key for ASU basketball without last year’s guards

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley motions to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Last season, Arizona State’s identity was clear: Guard U.

But now, the Sun Devils are without their starting guards and leading scorers from last year in Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice. The trio was the key to ASU’s success last year, averaging a combined 47.4 points per game.

Without Holder, Evans and Justice, the team loses valuable experience from the 2017-18 team. But some of that youth can be eased with the addition of two experienced transfers: Rob Edwards and Zylan Cheatham.

“This year, I had always thought I had a vision for losing Tra Holder and Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said at Pac-12 media days. “That’s why we looked at Zylan Cheatham and Rob Edwards, two transfers that excelled already, that are veteran players, proven players.”

Edwards is one of three guards expected to start in the 2018-19 season, along with sophomore Remy Martin and true freshman Luguentz Dort.

Prior to arriving at Arizona State, Edwards played two seasons at Cleveland State.

As a freshman, Edwards excelled and was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman team, starting 30 games with 994 minutes. One year later, Edwards averaged 16.5 points per game, which was sixth in the Horizon league.

Now a redshirt junior, Edwards will be called on to add experience to this young, skilled backcourt to offset the loss of last year’s starting guards.

“They laid the foundation for it, but still having Rob Edwards and Remy Martin and Luguentz Dort — those three guys will carry on that tradition fairly well,” Hurley said.

Arizona State didn’t just bolster its backcourt; the team also added forward Zylan Cheatham from San Diego State.

The South Mountain High School product played two seasons with the Aztecs before transferring to ASU. Cheatham led the Aztecs in rebounding his redshirt sophomore season with 6.3 per game in 22 starts.

One thing Cheatham brings to the table is his freak athleticism.

According to Hurley, Cheatham’s vertical jump is 42 inches, which means Arizona State could turn into Poster U this season. Not only is Cheatham expected to throw down his fair share of dunks this year, he’s also expected to be one of ASU’s premier defenders.

“When you could put a guy like Zylan Cheatham on the point of the zone on a three-quarter court just with his length, his athleticism, his activity, his motor; it’s something we’re putting into our plan this year defensively,” Hurley said.

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