ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

Arizona State center Shawn Phillips Jr. out for significant time with mid-foot injury

Nov 21, 2023, 11:25 AM | Updated: 11:35 am

Frankie Collins...

Jimmy Bell Jr. #15 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs reaches for the rebound against Frankie Collins #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils and Shawn Phillips Jr. #9 of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second half in the Barstool Sports Invitational at Wintrust Arena on November 8, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Arizona State men’s basketball center Shawn Phillips Jr. will miss “significant time” due to a mid-foot sprain, head coach Bobby Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday.

Hurley did not put a timeline on a possible return but suggested it could come around the time conference play begins as the calendar flips to 2024.

“It’s unfortunate because he’s worked really hard. Long-term I think he’s going to be great for us and … we have to do a good job to protect his future, so we’re going to be super careful with his foot issue,” Hurley said.

“It’s in a sensitive area that we need to be super cautious with and we’re going to do right by Shawn and make sure that we gradually bring him back. And he’s going to be a big part of things as we get closer to the Pac-12.”

The 7-foot Phillips averaged 5.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in three starts.

Arizona State loses size significantly with his absence. Forward Alonzo Gaffney, who is 6-foot-9, has been alongside Phillips in the starting lineup for recent wins against Texas Southern and UMass Lowell.

Hurley has used a short bench with 6-foot-8 forward Bryant Selebangue as the first big subbed in for all three games.

Jose Perez takes a step forward for Arizona State

Hurley has been tinkering with his starting group, both because Gaffney had dealt with his own preseason foot injury and because there are so many newcomers. In a 71-69 comeback win against UMass Lowell last Thursday, he flipped West Virginia transfer Jose Perez back as a starter.

Perez started the season-opening loss to Mississippi State, which said a lot considering his newness, but he came off the bench in the second game against Texas Southern. Moving Perez back into the starting five sent Kamari Lands to the bench on Thursday against UMass Lowell.

Perez, who joined ASU weeks before the season started, had his best game, leading the team with 20 points and four assists while shooting 7-for-9 from the field and getting to the foul line eight times.

“We knew what we were kind of getting based on the film he had put together … saw it in practice,” Hurley said of Perez. “Knew it would take some time to get his legs under him. He had an abbreviated preseason, just getting to know his teammates. But he was a bright spot on offense.

“He’s got a great way of creating contact to get to the free-throw line.”

Hurley also liked Perez’s patience and trust with his teammates, as unfamiliar as they are.

“We need that passing, that trust among our team and I think Jose will facilitate that for us.”

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