Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson is not taking the court for his team right now as he recovers from a Grade 1 stress reaction in his right tibia.
His head coach, Herb Sendek, said at ASU’s media day Thursday that the co-Pac-12 Freshman of Year could play now if needed, but that they want to “give him additional time” to heal up.
When he does get back, Sendek said he expects Carson to be even better than he was last season.
“I think he returns, clearly, as one of the very best — if not the best — point guard in the country,” he said.
Carson averaged 18.5 points, 5.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game for the Sun Devils last season, and was every bit as good as advertised.
Following the season he tested the NBA Draft waters, but ultimately decided to return to college for another season. And if all goes according to plan, it will be his last in Tempe.
His goal heading into it the campaign is pretty simple.
“To win, to win more games than we won last year,” he said.
The Sun Devils won 22 games last season but failed to reach the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season.
For all the good that happened last year, it was not enough for Carson.
“After we had a 20-win season, that’s kind of a good accomplishment, but I want more,” he said. “I want to win more than 20 games, win the Pac-12 championship, the Pac-12 season and get Pac-12 player of the year, All-American honors and get a deep run in the tournament.
“I think that will be a nice way to end my last year.”
Carson worked hard to make that a reality, spending much of the offseason going through various NBA camps to refine his game. He said it all offered a chance to measure his game up against NBA stars, and while he may not have dominated the way he did in the Pac-12 last year, he said things went well.
“I competed every time,” Carson said. “I’ll never say that anybody’s going to kill me, but I competed every time.”
The question now is whether or not Carson’s team will be able help him get to the Big Dance in his final collegiate season.
“We can’t end the year without that NCAA bid,” he said. “The NIT is OK, but that’s not where we want to go.”