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Rothstein: ASU men’s basketball No. 20 in early 2020-21 rankings

Arizona State forward Romello White (23) is defended by UCLA forward Jalen Hill (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

There is no official 2020 NCAA bracket, but ASU men’s basketball can go forward with the morale boost that it more than likely would have made its third straight NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1960s.

Jon Rothstein of College Hoops Today thinks that next year could be ASU’s fourth.

He ranked ASU as the No. 20 team in his early 2020-21 rankings.

The Sun Devils are returning their three best players from last year in guards Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge and big man Romello White.

Martin was an All-Pac-12 First Team member after averaging 19.1 points per game, the second-most in the conference. Verge was named the Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 16.8 points per game off the bench.

His increased consistency and learning how to play with Martin helped ASU down the stretch and should bode well for next season.

White’s 8.8 rebounds was tied for second-best in the Pac-12, and his 56.9% field goal percentage was 0.1% behind three players tied for third in the conference.

One thing that will be a detriment: ASU is losing Rob Edwards and Mickey Mitchell to graduation.

Edwards was inconsistent early in the year but stellar late, averaging 14 points and more than 3 made 3-pointers per game from Jan. 9 on. Mitchell’s impact sometimes didn’t show up on the stat sheet, but his defense, hustle and key rebounds made him an impact player.

But ASU has help coming in.

Marcus Bagley, brother of Sacramento Kings player Marvin Bagley, was a star at Sheldon High School in Sacramento, Calif.

The Huskies reached the CIF state Open Division championship last year, where they lost to powerhouse Sierra Canyon, and were just one game away from reaching the championship round again when the season got canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Bagley averaged 19.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists as a junior. He upped those averages to 22 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists this season.

With his presence next to bench players like Jaelen House and Jalen Graham who will have a year more of experience, ASU should still have depth, though it will need to find a better shooting to fill Edwards’ shoes.

Rothstein also mentioned that his list will be updated during the NBA Draft process. That doesn’t directly relate to ASU players, but there is on other thing that could push the team further up the list:

The Sun Devils are still in the running for five-star guard Joshua Christopher.

ASU is the second Pac-12 team on the list, behind just UCLA at No. 13. The Bruins have signed five-star point guard Daishen Nix and received a commitment from four-star shooting guard Jaylen Clark.

The other Pac-12 teams on Rothstein’s list, which is 45 teams deep, are No. 25 Colorado, No. 26 Oregon, No. 34 Arizona, No. 38 Stanford and No. 45 USC.

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