ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

ASU faces uncertain roster outlook with Martin, White declaring for draft

Apr 3, 2020, 8:10 AM
Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley gives a thumbs up to the crowd after his team upset Oregon 77...
Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley gives a thumbs up to the crowd after his team upset Oregon 77-72 during a NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

At the moment, the Arizona State Sun Devils are set to lose six of their top 11 players in minutes played from last season.

Rob Edwards and Mickey Mitchell are graduating, and both Elias Valtonen and Khalid Thomas entered the transfer portal. Worst of all, the team’s top duo of Remy Martin and Romello White will be declaring for the NBA Draft.

On top of that, Bobby Hurley only has one commit from the 2020 class, four-star small forward Marcus Bagley.

That’s problematic.

The most obvious swing is for Martin and White to only test the draft waters and return to school for their senior seasons, and both have reasons to.

Neither player is projected to be drafted. Martin and White are both undersized for their positions and lack the top-tier skill to entice NBA teams.

Martin’s point guard prowess is underdeveloped, and at his size, he can’t afford that despite the way he can score and attack with the basketball. White is a good bruiser inside but doesn’t have elite quickness or explosiveness to make up for the fact that he’s limited outside of the key as a 6-foot-8 center.

That is why their decisions to declare were viewed as a surprise, but head coach Bobby Hurley spoke to how much going through the pre-draft process can be worth.

“I think there’s a lot of value in going through the NBA evaluation process where they kind of give you feedback,” Hurley said on a video conference call Thursday. “They let you know what things that you would need to work on if guys were to choose to come back to school.”

Countless prospects who did the pre-draft grind as juniors and came back to it after their senior year have spoken on how much it helped them. It’s a daunting journey going from team to team, workout to workout over the course of less than a month.

It also can put their names on the map and help build relationships a year early, on top of the pointers Hurley alluded to.

Logically, you’d expect both players to come back given their current standing.

“I support both of those guys,” Hurley said. “If there’s a chance that either of those guys will not get drafted, most likely my recommendation will be for them to come back to Arizona State because of the team we have in place, the season they can have and then the chance to continue to build a resume to put themselves in a better position at the end of next year to make great money and possibly get drafted.”

But Hurley’s team could also be crippled by a bad decision.

Arizona’s Brandon Randolph, for example, was not a guy with any NBA buzz last summer. Despite that, he declared as a sophomore and stayed in the draft after going through the process without garnering much momentum.

Randolph wasn’t drafted, got only eight total minutes of play in the NBA Summer League and spent this season in the G League.

That’s not to say that’s how it will go for Martin and White, two much more established NCAA players.

As Hurley notes, just because Martin and White are slotted in as undrafted guys now does not mean that will stick.

“A lot changes through the draft process as you’re able to go and work out and compete against someone that might be rated higher than you, or get on the phone,” he said. “Remy is going to be unbelievable in meetings and on the phone with NBA people as he goes through the process.”

With the coronavirus halting just about everything around the country, including the NBA season, the unknown is when the draft will take place and if the likes of Martin, White and other prospects will even have on-court opportunities to prove to teams why they deserve to be drafted. Potential timing changes in the process because of the coronavirus could also make things complicated.

That makes it difficult for Hurley to assess where he needs to fill in gaps with grad transfers. The coach said they are looking at grad transfers as options for every position besides point guard.

Hurley has an undeniable need to grab bodies in general, and ASU is reportedly in the final five for transferring Wichita State big man Morris Udeze, per CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

For now, Hurley will just have to wait to see how vastly different his team will look for next season.

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