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Andy Katz: ASU men’s basketball is dark horse candidate for Final Four

Arizona State guard Remy Martin, foreground, dribbles around California guard Paris Austin during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Berkeley, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The Arizona State men’s basketball team has some national attention entering the season. Multiple analysts rate them in the top 15 of preseason rankings, and head coach Bobby Hurley acknowledged that this is, on paper, the best Sun Devil team he’s had.

Just how far can this group go?

NCAA correspondent Andy Katz thinks ASU is a dark horse team to reach the Final Four.

In his March Madness 365 Podcast on Oct. 6, Katz listed ASU with Texas Tech, Rutgers and Creighton as four teams he sees as sleeper picks for a Final Four appearance. The NCAA March Madness Twitter account expanded this list to include Texas, Richmond and UCLA.

Senior guard Remy Martin is one reason for the Sun Devil optimism. Martin is fifth on Katz’ list of National Player of the Year candidates.

Katz described Martin as an experienced leader and “big-shot maker,” and said the guard has the chance to lead ASU to “potentially win the Pac-12, get to the tournament, maybe make a deep run.”

Now a senior entering his fourth year of play, Martin has as much NCAA experience as anyone else in Div. I hoops. The continuity between him and veterans who have multiple years of college basketball experience including Alonzo Verge Jr., Kimani Lawrence and Taeshon Cherry will be beneficial for the team.

What could make this team different, though, is the depth. While the four aforementioned players may all be starters, head coach Bobby Hurley has options to mix up the lineup.

Five-star freshman guard Joshua Christopher and four-star freshman forward Marcus Bagley have both earned rave reviews from Hurley. It would be no surprise to see Christopher, the highest-ranked ASU prospect ever, get a starting nod, and it sounds like Bagley is in the mix at a forward spot.

Forward Pavlo Dziuba and guards Jaelen House and Holland Woods are expected to get playing time, and Jalen Graham will start at center. That gives ASU 10 players of Div. I rotation quality.

“I really like Arizona State as a whole. I love what Bobby Hurley has done. I love the fact that they’ve got experience back,” Katz said. “The addition of Josh Christopher, I think that takes them to another level.”

That depth and experience from the leaders gives him optimism about the team.

“Experience will matter. They’re going to have their backcourt back. They’re going to have leadership,” Katz said. “It’s a team that I really believe will be right there to potentially win the Pac-12.”

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