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ESPN ranks Jahii Carson as No. 3 freshman in Division 1

Life is pretty good for Herb Sendek and the ASU men’s basketball program right now.

How good?

Well, with a 77-62 victory at Texas Tech (first win on the road) Saturday, the Sun Devils have already matched their win total (10) from the 2011-12 season.

ASU has already reached the 10-win mark thanks to improved offensive tempo, leadership from Carrick Felix and Jordan Bachynski and impressive contributions from underclassmen Jonathan Gilling, Evan Jacobsen and Jahii Carson.

While Gilling was the story Saturday (hitting six of the team’s 14 three-pointers), Carson has been an effective presence throughout the 2012-13 season.

Carson, who had 18 points in the victory over the Red Raiders, leads the team in scoring (17.9 points per game) and has had double-digit scoring efforts in 11 of 12 games.

The former Mesa High School star has been especially effective in the month of December, hitting 47 percent of his shots and dishing out five assists per game. In that same span ASU is 5-1.

For his tremendous 12-game stretch, ESPN currently ranks Carson as the No. 3 freshman in the country.

Three of the top 20 recruits in the nation enrolled at Arizona this year, but there’s little question that the most impressive freshman in the state plays in Tempe. Carson (17.9 ppg) trails only Bennett is scoring, while also ranking in the top five in assists (5.3). It has been 16 years since a freshman averaged 17 and 5 (Seton Hall’s Shaheen Holloway in 1996-97). On a team picked to finish 11th in the Pac-12, it’s no surprise that the Sun Devils are leaning heavily on Carson. If he turns ASU into a conference contender, he might lock up this award. But keep in mind that the last USBWA Freshman of the Year to miss the NCAA tournament was Eddie Griffin in 2000-01.

Ironically, the last ASU freshman to make the conference’s All-Freshman first team was James Harden back in 2007-08. That season he led the Sun Devils in scoring with 17.9 points per game (Carson’s current average). Harden also made the All-Pac-12 first team that season.