TEMPE — The general public got their first real look at ASU guard Jahii Carson, and the former Mesa High star delivered.
Carson led all scorers, hitting 6-of-11 two-point shots and 2-of-3 three pointers during Saturday’s Maroon and Gold scrimmage at Wells Fargo Arena.
For good measure, Carson added two assists, three steals and four deflections on defense. For a player with a lot of expectations heaped upon him, the freshman was just glad to be back and playing with his teammates after being academically ineligible a year ago.
“I definitely feel like a monkey is off my back,” Carson said. “Being out here playing, it feels so good.”
Carson averaged 32.2 points per game in his senior season at Mesa, and his ineligibility in 2011-12 was a harbinger of things to come for Herb Sendek’s squad that finished a dismal 10-21 campaign.
Carson’s presence heading into this season has made a difference around Tempe according to Sendek.
“Ticket sales are going really well, we’re all pointing toward that season opener November 10,” he said.
Carson isn’t the only new face who will play a key role for the Sun Devils this season. In all, seven new players are on the roster, including guard Evan Gordon, a transfer from Liberty and the younger brother of New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon.
Gordon hit 3-of-5 shots and a three-pointer during Saturday’s session.
“One thing Evan can do is score,” Sendek said. “If he’ll take good shots, he really gives us a scoring dimension.”
Sendek also singled out senior forward Carrick Felix for his leadership — an important ingredient for this year’s squad in the aftermath of Trent Lockett’s transfer to Marquette following last season.
“He’s just done a great job with leadership as a fifth-year senior, a young man who has already graduated and is working on his Master’s program, he’s just been a real consistent voice for our team,” Sendek stated. “He’s been positive, he’s been encouraging, but he’s also been firm when he’s had to.”
Felix, a product of Millennium High School in Goodyear, is ASU’s leading returning scorer as he averaged 10.5 points per contest in 2011-12.