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The Athletic’s Hamilton: Remy Martin’s role for ASU is top-5 in intrigue

Arizona State guard Remy Martin, right, celebrates during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game as Washington State guard Jervae Robinson looks on Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Remy Martin’s return to the Arizona State basketball team for his senior season keeps the core of the team’s identity together.

Head coach Bobby Hurley allows Martin to fly free, bringing the pace and bouncy-haired energy. But as the Sun Devils look toward a 2020-21 season — an NCAA committee agreed Wednesday to target a Nov. 25 start date — it’s curious to find out how Martin, the 19-point-per-game scorer, will fit with ASU’s biggest offseason addition.

Incoming freshman Josh Christopher is an NBA prospect and the highest-ranked recruit to land in Tempe since James Harden, per 247 Sports’ rankings. How Martin and Christopher develop with one another will dictate how far Arizona State might go.

For that reason, The Athletic’s Brian Hamilton ranks Martin No. 5 on a list of the most intriguing players in college hoops.

Martin, in his final season, is reframed as a central character in the Josh Christopher Show. One of the nation’s most offensively gifted freshmen arrives in Tempe, and while the Sun Devils’ tempo (14th nationally last season) should result in plenty of possessions to go around, how does Martin adjust his game — if at all? Is he too comfortable in a lead scorer’s role to cede it? Will he have to? Would he willingly become a distributor if called upon to do that? How it unfolds may dictate how high Bobby Hurley’s crew can climb.

It would be remiss to not mention that Martin grew into his role as a top scorer. As a freshman, he was a jolt off the bench behind senior guards Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice.

While Martin became a starter as a sophomore, he had NBA talents Luguentz Dort and Zylan Cheatham carrying much of the load. Martin averaged 12.9 points and 5.0 assists per game.

But as a senior, his shot attempts per game increased from 10.8. to 15.2. Martin’s usage skyrocketed from around 22% his first two seasons to 29% as a junior.

Christopher, a wing scorer first and foremost, will be able to fit on the court with Martin and even last year’s sixth man, Alonzo Verge, but how the touches are redistributed is the fascinating thing to watch.

It will be on the usually hands-off Hurley to help them find a balance.

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