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ASU hoops looks like Pac-12 contender after draft withdrawal deadline

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley reacts during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Stanford in Stanford, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Even before the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline passed Monday, the Arizona State Sun Devils probably looked at 2020-21 optimistically.

Guards Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge in the past week decided to return for their senior seasons at ASU, and head coach Bobby Hurley had already pulled in his biggest recruit, landing 5-star guard Josh Christopher.

Even though big man Romello White transferring to Ole Miss late in the offseason surprised Hurley, the Sun Devils enter the coming season as a near-unanimous top-25 team and a favorite in the Pac-12 despite other conference teams also returning key players.

A rotation of Martin, Verge and Jaelen House at lead guard, plus a deep wing rotation of Christopher, fellow freshman Marcus Bagley, plus the experienced Kimani Lawrence and Taeshon Cherry can take an attacking, fast-paced Hurley-coached team a long way. If Jalen Graham can solidify himself as a reliable big his sophomore year, it will round out at least the starting rotation.

Here’s a quick run around the internet for NCAA hoops top-25 rankings that have been updated since the draft withdrawal deadline passed.

The Athletic’s Seth Davis

No. 19

Since I first published my rankings, the Sun Devils were boosted by two pieces of enormously good news. The first was the decision of incoming freshman Josh Christopher, a 6-5 guard from California who is ranked 10th in the RSCI for the Class of 2020, to sign with Arizona State over Michigan, UCLA and Missouri. The second came on Sunday, when senior guard Remy Martin, who led the team last season in scoring (19.1) and assists (4.1), withdrew from the draft. Second-leading scorer Alonzo Verge, a 6-3 senior guard, is also coming back, and Bobby Hurley brought in another stud frosh in Marcus Bagley, a 6-8 forward from Sacramento, Calif., who is the younger brother of Marvin Bagley and is ranked 31st in the RSCI. ASU will be thin up front because last year’s only viable post player, 6-8 senior forward Romello White, transferred to Ole Miss, but there is still enough firepower in Tempe to challenge for the Pac-12 title.

Notably, Davis has ASU as the best Pac-12 team. The Sun Devils are followed immediately in his early August rankings by Oregon and then UCLA.

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman

No. 13

Goodman considers ASU a clear title favorite in the conference. UCLA and Oregon don’t appear on his list of the top 50 teams until 27 and 30, respectively. Arizona (37th), Colorado (39th), USC (45th) and Stanford (50th) all make his list.

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish

No. 26

Romello White’s decision to enter the transfer portal means Arizona State is losing its leading rebounder and one of three double-digit scorers who were expected to return from last season’s team. That’s tough. But 5-star guard Josh Christopher joining a nucleus of Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge suggests Bobby Hurley might still have a chance to finish in the top three of the Pac-12 for what would be the third consecutive season.

Parrish has Pac-12 foes Oregon (20th) and UCLA (22nd) ahead of the Sun Devils.

NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster

No. 23

This ranking is dependent on Remy Martin making the decision to return to school for the 2020-21 season, but if they do, the Sun Devils have a chance to be really, really good. Losing Romello White is going to hurt, but Alonzo Verge had a breakout season, and they added Josh Christopher, a five-star prospect from California.

The Sun Devils have the honor of being the only top-25 team from the Pac-12 in Dauster’s rankings. UCLA and Oregon make up two of six teams that just missed the cut.

College Hoops Today’s Jon Rothstein

No. 14

Rothstein is in general higher on the Pac-12 than his counterparts. He’s got UCLA at No. 12 before ASU (14th), Oregon (22nd), Stanford (28th) and Arizona (38th) in his top-45.


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