TEMPE, Ariz. — Savon Goodman isn’t about statistics.
He’s heard about them enough in his life, he said, through high school in Philadelphia as a top-100 recruit and his freshman year at UNLV, where he averaged just 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds.
“I’ve never been that type of person,” he said.
But the 6-foot-6 Arizona State forward became a statistic in 2013.
Goodman pled guilty to petty theft and trespass charges after being initially charged with misdemeanor conspiracy and felony burglary and grand larceny from an incident in which he allegedly stole shoes, $500 in cash and more than $900 in video games from a friend’s apartment.
He admits he doesn’t talk about it much. Why would he? The 18-year-old kid who committed a crime is no longer who he is.
“I think I’m a different person because I’m a lot older, I’ve learned from my mistakes,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to have a second chance. I’m going to do everything in my power to not make my family sad again. I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity.”
His face is solemn when he says it. He had been looking slightly off into the distance before but made eye contact then, so you know he’s deadly serious. And you think for a second, if this is the expression he wears when you’re coming down the court to face him, you may as well run in the opposite direction.
But he cracks into a smile when he’s asked who he plays for. His tattooed shoulders relax.
“My mom,” he said. “My sister.
“I miss (my mom), to be honest…I talk to them every day. ”
Goodman says now, he just wants to do what he can to someday make a life for his family.
For now, his family includes his teammates — and he’s all about the team as a whole taking accountability for their actions. The Sun Devils will need that now after posting a shaky 8-5 non-conference record and suffering an embarrassing 73-49 loss to Arizona on Jan. 4.
“It’s not so much us getting on each other, it’s about manning up, taking responsibility for our faults so we can move forward and get better,” Goodman said.
Oh, he might know a little something about that.
Goodman spent the year after his charges on the bench at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa on probation. He also was court-ordered to serve 200 hours of community service and pay $1,370 in restitution.
“600 days out,” he recites the days he’d been benched.
Now, he plays with a chip on his shoulder a mile high. He says he knows he has something to prove.
“I definitely feel like (we have) a change in our energy,” said Goodman about returning to the court.
The Sun Devils struggled early in the season with a bit of an identity crisis. Head coach Herb Sendek seemed to send out a different starting corps every night; and aside from center Eric Jacobsen, Arizona State seemed to lack…something. Something different, each game — physicality, cohesiveness, fire, something.
Goodman hopes his presence is changing that.
“That’s what I was looking for,” he said. “To bring a different level of physicality and tenacious defense out there, kind of a different level of energy. ”
Goodman said if he can help lift the “defensive energy,” he is hopeful that will ultimately pay off in offensive production.
He was maybe a little too energetic in his first game back after “600 days” of riding the cushions.
Goodman fouled out within eight minutes against Marquette on Dec. 16, with seven points. But in the three games following, he recorded two consecutive double-doubles and was just two rebounds away from a third.
He now is one of ASU’s scoring leaders with 10 points per game and also contributes an average of six rebounds per game.
But again, those are just statistics. He doesn’t think about them. To him, there’s a larger perspective to take.
“I felt like, when I first lost this opportunity to play Division 1, I felt like I didn’t fully grasp what was at stake,” he said. “I didn’t fully grasp (the thought that) ‘If I make a mistake, it affects my family and the people that are in my circle, the coaches that support me to get to that point.’
“I understand now that I’m 21 and not 18 that my responsibility and my actions aren’t just mine. They become my teammates’ actions…it’s not just me. It’s a bigger picture. I’m just looking to be a regular student, get good grades, play basketball and make my mom happy.”