ASU basketball’s future is bright despite disappointing 1st-round exit

Mar 20, 2023, 6:28 PM | Updated: 6:30 pm

DJ Horne #0 of the Arizona State Sun Devils goes to the basket against Rodrigue Andela #34 of the O...

DJ Horne #0 of the Arizona State Sun Devils goes to the basket against Rodrigue Andela #34 of the Oregon State Beavers in the first half during round one of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Arizona State’s 2022-23 basketball campaign repeated a familiar refrain: emerging as contenders before getting knocked down before again rising off the canvas.

Early in the season, the squad followed a disappointing loss at Texas Southern with an 87-62 drubbing of No. 20 Michigan on Nov. 17 to win the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. The pugilistic nature of this team would rise again and again. Big wins were earned just when they were needed the most: like the buzzer-beater Feb. 25 at then-No. 7 Arizona.

Head coach Bobby Hurley told reporters Friday night after his squad was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by TCU that he knew his team would persevere until the very end.

“They’re fighters, they’ve won a lot of different ways,” Hurley said. “You saw us win the way we did against Nevada. We’ve had huge comeback wins. We’ve won a lot of close games this year, it just didn’t work out for us (Friday night). But that was an exciting game. That’s what Arizona State basketball looks like.”

It will likely take another scrappy squad for ASU to compete in 2023-24.

Leading scorer Desmond Cambridge Jr. and guard Luther Muhammad both played major roles in 2022-2023 but have exhausted their college eligibility. Sixteen members of this year’s roster are currently eligible to return, including the starters Warren Washington, Devan Cambridge, Frankie Collins and DJ Horne, as well as Alonzo Gaffney, Duke Brennan, Austin Nunez, Jamiya Neal, Enoch Boakye and Bobby Hurley Jr.

There were bright spots for the Sun Devils as the 2022-23 squad had the third-most wins (23) since 1980-81 and won 20 games for the fourth time in the last six years. They had accomplished the feat only 11 times prior to this season over the last 42 years.

The team also took more field goals than any other Sun Devil squad (2,163) and the second-most three-point attempts (851).

Defensively, Arizona State ranked 15th in the nation and fifth among NCAA Tournament teams holding opponents to just 40% shooting from the field at season’s end.

ASU was 9-0 this season when surrendering fewer than 60 points and held opponents to 40% or less from the field 18 games this season. The Sun Devils had the sixth-best two-point percentage defense in the nation, allowing teams to shoot only 43.6% from inside the arc.

While Hurley and the Sun Devils had successes that will help them advance the program next season, Hurley said Friday night that they will also review ways to get better, including game management. ASU left a timeout on the scoreboard after TCU’s game-winning shot with just 1.5 seconds remaining.

“That one you can put on me because I knew I had a timeout, and maybe we could have thrown it to halfcourt and flipped it to a guard and they would have taken a dribble and gotten about 20 feet closer,” Hurley said. “That’s certainly something I’ll think about.”

Arizona State Basketball

Frankie Collins...

Arizona Sports

PG Frankie Collins returns to ASU after testing NBA Draft waters

Point guard Frankie Collins is returning to the Arizona State Sun Devils and will represent Bobby Hurley's lone returning starter.

5 days ago

Bronny James #6 of the West team talks to Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers after the 2023 McD...

Associated Press

Bronny James, son of LeBron James, commits to USC ahead of last Pac-12 season

LeBron James' oldest son Bronny James will compete in the Pac-12 next season for the University of Southern California.

25 days ago

ESPN Pac-12...

Arizona Sports

Report: ESPN not interested taking top Pac-12 football games in new media deal

Reports indicate the Pac-12 remains far from landing a new media rights deal as conference meetings conclude on Thursday.

27 days ago

Tyrese Hunter #4 of the Texas Longhorns races to catch Brycen Long #3 of the Houston Christian Husk...

Arizona Sports

Local product Brycen Long commits to ASU hoops via transfer portal

The Arizona State Sun Devils men's basketball team received its latest commitment in former Houston Christian guard Brycen Long on Wednesday.

28 days ago

Arizona State forward Bryant Selebangue...

Jake Anderson

Arizona State hoops picks up former Tulsa forward Bryant Selebangue in transfer portal

The 6-foot-8 junior Bryant Selebangue, who has two years of eligibility remaining, announced his commitment to Arizona State on Instagram.

30 days ago

Arizona Sports

ASU’s Warren Washington enters transfer portal

Center Warren Washington will aim to play for his fourth school as he seeks a transfer from Arizona State.

1 month ago

ASU basketball’s future is bright despite disappointing 1st-round exit