ASU basketball taking it slow with star Jahii Carson

azcentral sports Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:24 PM

Arizona State’s first basketball practice Monday featured eight newcomers — and preseason All-America candidate Jahii Carson working on his own, off to the side.

The point guard is easing into his sophomore season because of a stress reaction in his right tibia.

Carson also said he has had shin-splint issues in both legs since last season.

The plan is to keep Carson sidelined for a week or so to let him recover. Neither he nor coach Herb Sendek said he is concerned.

“It’s a progressive thing,” said Sendek, starting his eighth season with the Sun Devils. “He has flat feet, so we’re going to fit him with some orthotics. The good news is we’re getting out ahead of it. We’re being precautionary. If we had a game tonight, he could play.

“But we’re going to play it safe. We’re going to get it calmed down and then he should be fine.”

Carson said it’s hard not to practice with his teammates, but he understands the reasoning.

“Before we start picking it up, Coach decided to give me a little rest,’’ he said. “I can do the ball-handling and the free-throw shooting and the spot-up shooting. I played a lot of minutes last year, so it's good for me to get some time off.”

Carson last season averaged 18.5 points and 5.1 assists per game, earning All-Pac-12 and co-Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors.

He’s one of three returning starters for the Sun Devils, joining senior center Jordan Bachynski (9.8 ppg) and junior forward Jonathan Gilling (9.7).

Last season ASU finished 22-13, losing in the second round of the NIT.

The Sun Devils lost all-conference defender and team leader Carrick Felix, a second-round NBA draft pick, and guard Evan Gordon, who transferred to Indiana.

The preseason challenge is to get the newcomers ready for a higher level, a process started during ASU’s summer exhibition tour to China.

Two — senior forward Richie Edwards and and junior forward Brandan Kearney — transferred to ASU last season, so they are familiar with the program. A third, senior guard Jermaine Marshall, averaged 15.3 points and 4.6 rebounds last season at Penn State, so he should adjust easily.

The others, however, are learning as they go. Senior wing Shaquielle McKissic and sophomore forward Sai Tummala transferred from junior colleges. Sophomore guard Calaen Robinson sat out last season because of a personal matter, and wing Egor Koulechov and guard Chance Murray are freshmen.

“We’re going to do our part as a coaching staff by keeping things as simple as we can, because we don’t want guys having to feel limited because they have to over-think things,’’ Sendek said. “We want them playing with a sense of freedom and aggressiveness. … But with any team you have to get a feel to play together so you know each other’s strengths and non-strengths and your timing and your rhythm. All those things kind of come together.”

ASU opens Nov. 8 against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

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