SI names ASU’s Luguentz Dort ‘freshman flying under the radar’

Nov 27, 2018, 10:00 AM | Updated: 10:02 am

Arizona State 's Luguentz Dort, right, and Utah State's John Knight III scramble for the ball durin...

Arizona State 's Luguentz Dort, right, and Utah State's John Knight III scramble for the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

(AP Photo/John Locher)

In each of Arizona State’s first five games, one thing has stood out: Luguentz Dort.

The freshman has made a name for himself just a couple games into his Sun Devil career, averaging 23.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 215 pounds, Dort is a player unlike anyone the Sun Devils have seen in quite some time.

The nation has taken note.

In a recent Sports Illustrated article by Jeremy Woo, Dort was listed as one of five freshmen who are flying under the radar. Along with Dort was Jaxson Hayes (Texas), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan) and A.J. Lawson (South Carolina).

Despite the small sample size, the article praised Dort’s athleticism and ability to drive to the hoop.

He’s more of a straight-line attacker than dribble-creator, but looks to be in great shape and has demonstrated enough of a feel for playing on the ball, whether driving and kicking or using ball screens. Due to his size, burst, and willingness to attack downhill, he does a nice job of finishing around the basket and getting to the foul line.

Because of his size and athleticism, Woo said Dort could be in high demand come June. He also said Dort compares to Celtics guard Marcus Smart.

Some scouts have expressed a degree of trepidation as far as long-term upside goes, but Dort has been fairly compared to Marcus Smart, another strong combo guard who can play both sides of the ball while applying distinct physical strengths.

Smart has established himself as one of the scrappiest, most aggressive players in the NBA over the past five seasons. Before that, he was a standout at Oklahoma State, averaging 18.0 points per game.

While Dort has shown significant promise and translation to the NBA in his first few games, there are some questions about his game. One of those is his three-point shot, despite his early success from beyond the arc.

He’s shooting 10–23 from beyond the arc to start the season, but the quality of his jumper is often nitpicked—Dort shoots a soft ball that can arc almost uncomfortably high, and was not known as a major deep threat during his high school days.

Additionally, Dort still has shown brief laspses on the defensive end.

He needs to apply himself defensively on a more regular basis, and we’ll learn more about his consistency, creativity and ability to stay efficient as the season goes on.

Even with these areas for improvement, Woo said Dort could hear his name called early in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Given Dort’s early play and the current shape of the 2019 draft, it’s easy to envision an ostensibly higher-floor prospect like him cementing himself in the mix in the middle of the first round.

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SI names ASU’s Luguentz Dort ‘freshman flying under the radar’