TEMPE, Ariz. — The Craig and Connie Weatherup Center might as well have been a candy store during Thursday’s ASU basketball media day, because fifth-year senior Jermaine Marshall had no problem playing the role of the wide-eyed kid.
For Marshall, who transferred to Arizona State back in July, the 2013-14 campaign represents his last chance to make a splash at the collegiate level.
The Etters, Pa. native thought he made a quite name for himself as Penn State’s leading scorer (15.3 points per game) a season ago, but following graduation the interest for his services was rather non-existent around Happy Valley.
Still with one year of eligibility remaining, Marshall hung tight to his NBA dream and decided on the Sun Devils rather than looking at potential offers to play for a club team overseas.
“I think they have things going great [here],” Marshall said when asked why he chose ASU. “They just put a guy in the NBA in Carrick Felix. You know Jahii Carson is about to go to the NBA. Jordan Bachynski is also in a good position to go to the NBA.
“I felt like if I could get in that mix and get a shot that hopefully I’d get one more shot in the NBA.”
Three days into practice, Coach Herb Sendek might already be one of the senior transfer’s biggest fans.
“Jermaine is a very good basketball player,” said Sendek. “He’s a proven basketball player. He has a great deal of experience. I really like his toughness and his grit. I think he’s a fearless competitor, and we expect him to help our team a great deal.”
The help is much-needed considering the team’s offseason departures.
With Felix (14.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game) now a rookie for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Evan Gordon (10.1 points and 2.9 assists per game) now a member of the Indiana Hoosiers (transferred back in May), finding someone who could score — and in particular on the perimeter — was of the utmost importance for ASU this summer.
And in Marshall, Sendek and his staff certainly have that guy.
At 6-foot-4, the 23-year-old is listed as a wing, but he’s more or less a shooting guard with good length and an ability to get to the basket.
In 2012, Marshall shot 39 percent from the field, 34 percent from three-point range and 76 percent from the foul line.
His addition is a welcomed one to say the least, not just by Sendek but also by the man he’ll be primarily sharing the offensive load with in 2013-14, reigning Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year Jahii Carson.
“I think he and I can be very dangerous,” Carson said. “No one has really seen him in the Pac-12. The first time in the Pac-12 a lot of guys won’t know how to guard him. He’s very deceptive. He can hit the jump shot. He can create his own shot. And, he’s a very good distributor.
“It’s going to very tough for guys to contain he and I both.”
The good news — at least early in the preseason — is that the feeling looks to be mutual between the two. While both Carson and Marshall are used to being alphas at the offensive end, the backcourt duo appears content to put their egos aside for the betterment of each other and the team.
“[Our relationship] is great,” said Marshall. “I think we’re both on the same page. We talk about the season everyday and how excited we are to play together and get started.
“I feel like we can do a lot of great things as a unit and as a team, as well.”
The Sun Devils don’t open their season until Nov. 8 when they host Maryland-Baltimore County at Wells Fargo Arena, but already the love fest in Tempe is well under way.
That’s just fine with Marshall. The kid in the proverbial candy shop is enjoying every minute of his new experience.
“If you had told me around this time last year that I would be in the situation I am now, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you,” said Marshall. “But I’m loving it. I’m loving Arizona State. I’m loving the coaching staff. I’m loving the guys. And, I’m loving Tempe.”