football

Sun devils focus on JUCO evaluations

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LAS VEGAS -- In a packed community center gymnasium on the outskits of town, Arizona State's coaching staff didn't need to say anything to make a big statement.
With numerous high school AAU games featuring players they're recruiting taking place simultaneously at other gyms around the valley, Sun Devil head coach Herb Sendek was flanked by assistants Stan Johnson and Larry Greer front and center at the JUCO All-American Showcase.
ASU was not only the lone Pac-12 program to have all three of its allowed coaches in the gym, but perhaps the only Division I program in the nation. They could have split up and spent that time evaluating other prospective targets but didn't, a clear strategic demonstration.
Three of the 80 players at the event have already secured ASU scholarship offers, and the Sun Devils have made apparent their goal is to land one or more of the biggest JUCO fish in the sea.
Roosevelt Scott -- a non-attendee at the showcase -- posted to one of his social media feeds recently that he planned to commit to ASU. Scott, a 6-foot-4 athletic wing at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa, could be added to ASU's commit list in the near future pending a review of his transcripts.
Sendek offered Scott a scholarship after watching him play at Jerry Mullen's junior college showcase in St. Louis two weekends ago.
If Scott ends up in the fold, it will give ASU four commitments in the class, along with Rivals150 point guard Tra Holder and post Connor MacDougall, and in-state wing Kodi Justice. The Sun Devils have the ability to award as many as six scholarships.
With its remaining scholarships, ASU has targeted, among a number of high school players, junior college standout guards Gary Payton and Gerry Blakes, and forward Deng Deng, all of whom participated in the weekend's showcase.
Payton, a 6-foot-3, 190 pound southpaw, is an elite defender with versatility. The Salt Lake City Community College standout can play point guard or either wing spot. He guards like his father, former NBA star Gary Payton, and has a complete offensive skill set.
Blakes, 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, is a run and jump athlete who plays above the rim and is a scorer at the basket. Also a lefty, Blakes, handles the ball well for his size and is a moderate shooter. He plays at San Bernardino Valley College, which is coached by former ASU player Quincy Brewer.
Deng, a 6-foot-8 forward at Lee Community College in Baytown, Texas, is a pogo stick of an athlete with a very high skill ceiling. He handles the ball on the perimeter and can shoot it off the bounce, and can defend small forwards.
ASU, it appears, would ideally like to be able to get Deng and either Payton or Blakes to fill out the class, unless it was able to secure an elite high school wing such as Rivals100 recruit Namon Wright.
Sendek and his staff are aware of the need to try to have one more more impact players in its lineup in 2014-15, following the anticipated departure of Jahii Carson and several other key starters.
If it could land Payton, Blakes or Deng, it would build in an athletic and versatile scoring piece to its roster composition.
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