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ASU’s Bobby Hurley, Remy Martin unfazed by high preseason praise

Arizona State's Remy Martin (1) and Romello White (23) celebrate during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

The hype surrounding Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils keeps growing.

NCAA correspondent Andy Katz named Arizona State a dark horse team for the NCAA Final Four.

The Associated Press ranked the team at No. 18 in a preseason top-25 poll, the highest-ranked Pac-12 team.

And on Thursday, media members picked ASU to finish second in the Pac-12 season.

But the team isn’t going to let the high praise from both local and national media get to their heads.

“Mindset does not change,” senior point guard and preseason All-American Remy Martin told reporters on Thursday. “I’m still the same person no matter if we’re ranked No. 1 or we’re ranked 100. Doesn’t matter.”

A big part of the high rankings is the return of Martin, who had a difficult decision to make of either entering the NBA Draft or returning to finish out his college career with the Sun Devils.

“It was something that was messing with my head because it was such a tough decision,” Martin said. “It’s a life decision. … I’m very happy to be here. I’m happy to finish it out at Arizona State, but that decision was probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.”

The young standout averaged 19.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season.

The Sun Devils also added the talented freshmen pair of Marcus Bagley and Joshua Christopher, who are expected to make a large impact on the court this year.

ASU was predicted to land in the sixth spot in the conference the past two seasons, but ended up finishing second in 2018-19 and tied for third in 2019-20.

Hurley said ASU’s track record of fast, exciting play has helped bring the team to national recognition, as well the legacy of having talented guards on the court.

As the season ramps up to begin on Nov. 25, the head coach is solely focusing on what his players are bringing to the table.

“I’m happy people are excited about what we’re doing and I think we’ve got some really high-level players led by Remy Martin and a great recruiting class and other guys to be excited about,” Hurley said. “But now it’s time to go do it on the floor.”

Although, it won’t be easy competition.

“You’re looking at a lot of programs that are bringing key players back,” Hurley added. “I think this league is extremely deep and we could be looking at another scenario like my first year at Arizona State where there were seven (Pac-12) teams in the NCAA tournament. I think that the league is extremely strong.”

Hurley is entering his sixth year as ASU’s coach, leading the team to the NCAA tournament twice. He says the team would’ve been back for a third if the tournament hadn’t been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

After finishing with a 20-11 overall record (11-7 conference record) last season, Hurley is ready for the team he’s built to continue to improve.

“When you start building that foundation for winning and the expectation, everything else falls into line,” Hurley said.

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