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Offseason work strengthens Jahii Carson’s goal: I want to be the best

So, how did you spend your summer vacation?

Jahii Carson spent his crisscrossing the country, but it was no vacation.

There was the trip to Union, New Jersey in June, the stop in Las Vegas the first weekend in July and, now, a five-day visit to Los Angeles beginning Thursday.

Each destination — whether the Nike Point Guard Skills Academy featuring Deron Williams and Kyrie Irving, the LeBron James Skills Academy or this week the adidas Nations Global Challenge — presented the same opportunity: improvement as a basketball player through competition against the very best in the nation.

“They were fun,” Carson said. “Great players. Tough competition. Great teaching points. Everybody was trying to do their thing, so it was fun.”

And the feedback?

“They just praised my game,” he said, referring to the big-name camp counselors, such as Jay Bilas and John Lucas. “I was really blessed to get the opportunity to get to talk to those guys. They told me how competitive I was, how much my jump shot is improving and how they felt I was one of the top five players in the country, period. It gave me a huge confidence boost and humbled me as well.”

Carson, the Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year and a First-Team All-Pac-12 player after averaging 18.5 points, 5.1 assists and 1.2 steals, is focused on returning the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.

“I know when I’m asleep, guys are working so I try to work as much as possible,” he said. “I want to be the best. I have high expectations for myself. My teammates have high expectations for me as well. I have a high expectation for us as a whole. I’m just trying to get better, just overall as a person and as a player.

“The whole summer has been fun and enjoyable for me.”

And again, it’s not over yet.

Once Carson returns from L.A., he’ll join his teammates on a 10-day tour of China, where they will play three games, one against a university team and two against Chinese Basketball Association teams.

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