Arizona State basketball getting closer to whole with Shawn Phillips Jr. nearing return

Dec 19, 2023, 11:09 AM

Shawn Phillips Jr....

Shawn Phillips Jr. #9 of the Arizona State Sun Devils dunks the ball against Shawn Jones Jr. #5 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the first 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 is getting closer to full strength with Pac-12 play less than two weeks out.

Head coach Bobby Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday center Shawn Phillips Jr. is “very close” to playing again after he has missed the last seven games with a foot injury.

“If it was up to Shawn, it would be tomorrow,” Hurley said ahead of Wednesday’s game against Northwestern at the Jerry Colangelo Hall of Famer Series. “He’s finally feeling like himself. He’s still got a lot of work to do to get the foundation back under him before we can get him to the floor.”

Hurley said Phillips had a good day in practice on Monday and is getting more involved. If Phillips has another positive day at practice on Tuesday, Hurley expects the big man to participate in pregame warmups and dress on Wednesday at Footprint Center, but he is not expected to play.

Phillips is a seven-footer who started the first three games of the season after transferring from LSU, and the Sun Devils have missed his size.

Arizona State will have a break between games after Wednesday with the conference slate starting Dec. 29 against Stanford.

ASU also got back guard Adam Miller after an NCAA eligibility saga ended with a court’s restraint on rules that keep two-time transfers from playing this season.

Miller debuted on Saturday against TCU and led the team with 20 points. He also transferred from LSU with Phillips.

“It was disappointing he had to sit out that many games, but his state of mind has completely changed now that he’s been able to play,” Hurley said. “He’s been a different person these last few days, and you just want these kids ultimately to be happy and have a great experience.”

Hurley said Miller will continue to help with the Sun Devils’ perimeter and free-throw shooting while adding a veteran presence.

The Sun Devils will face a Northwestern team coached by Chris Collins, Hurley’s roommate for a time while they played at Duke. Boo Buie is the Wildcats’ top scorer at 18 points per game, and Hurley called Northwestern a high IQ team that is defensive-minded.

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