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What Arizona State's Future Looks Like

After the Sun Devils spiraled out of the Pac-12 tournament, where do they turn?

LAS VEGAS -- Arizona State's reality check cleared in just three minutes. 

The Sun Devils were up by 14 points with 3:01 remaining in their opening round contest against the Stanford Cardinal. ASU players were dancing and laughing on the sideline following an emphatic dunk by forward Kimani Lawrence that should have been the nail in the Cardinal coffin.

Yet when the final buzzer sounded, Stanford was the team celebrating after a last-second shot capped a 16-1 run in what was a remarkable collapse by ASU

Arizona State Stanford

“I really thought Arizona State fought to the end. It wasn't something they gave in or changed, anything like that. Again, I thought they competed hard. There was never (a moment) where I saw there was a look in their eye that was lost, but it was more of look in our eye of just stability," Stanford head coach Jerod Haase said following the win.

The Sun Devils now exit Las Vegas earlier than anticipated, with their season suddenly over after a hot finish to the regular season. 

Experts believed Arizona State was a team most in the Pac-12 didn't want to face in the conference tournament. Now the Sun Devils attempt to pick up the pieces from a season that was ravaged by injuries and COVID. 

So, where does ASU basketball go from here? What does the future in Tempe look like?

Where Arizona State Goes From Here


We'll start with head coach Bobby Hurley, who many hold responsible for ASU's early exit in the Pac-12 tournament. 

Hurley has seen his fair share of criticism over this past season, yet his status for the 2022-23 season isn't in jeopardy. Arizona State athletics director Ray Anderson confirmed last week Hurley would return for another season. 

Granted, that was during ASU's streak of games where the team looked primed to shock the world. However, Anderson has displayed major patience (see: Herm Edwards) in his coaches. 

Players Departing

From a talent perspective, the Sun Devils will be losing the senior talents of forward Kimani Lawrence and guard Marreon Jackson. 

Lawrence played a key role in helping build Arizona State's program since his arrival in 2017 and paced the Sun Devils in rebounds (6.3) and shooting percentage (52.8%) this season.

Jackson, a former MAC Player of the Year who transferred to ASU this season, took his time getting going but eventually found his form near the end of the year when the Sun Devils needed him most. Jackson led Arizona State in assists (4) and steals (1.7) per game. 

Remaining Talent

Arizona State has a lot of strong pieces to be excited about, assuming the rest of the roster doesn't attempt to depart via the NBA Draft or the transfer portal. 

Most exciting is guard DJ Horne, who led ASU with 12.5 points per game during the season. Horne's ability to hit three-pointers helped the Sun Devils stay in games this season. Depth at the guard position returns as a strength thanks to the presence of Luther Muhammad and Jay Heath. 

Forward Marcus Bagley didn't play after Nov. 15 following a knee injury that remains a mystery to the outside world. Arizona State saw how special he could be when healthy, as a return to ASU with a clean slate would benefit both parties. 

Fellow forwards Jalen Graham and Alonzo Gaffney should also return to the Sun Devils, as both starters pieced together impressive strings of performances down the stretch. Hurley consistently praised Graham for his emergence as a prominent player as the regular season concluded. 

Center Enoch Boakye retains serious potential to evolve into a monster around the rim for Arizona State, as flashes of his dominance occurred in and out of the season. 

Incoming Talent

Arizona State has two highly touted recruits coming to Tempe next year, the most notable being guard Austin Nunez. 

Nunez (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) is the No. 8 prospect out of Texas in 247 Sports' Composite Rankings.

Here's what 247 Sports' Brandon Jenkins said about Nunez:

"Nunez is a dangerous shooter from long range and beyond. The lefty is one of the best in the country at heating up from behind the arc. Each year he has become more of an explosive player in space. Defensively, he has the foot speed and quickness to be a valuable asset in man-to-man play.

"In terms of leading a talented high major college team, he has solid feel as a passer but will need to improve some with his decisions on when to score and when to defer to teammates. His ability to knock down shots from long distance at the point guard spot will provide programs to take advantage of his ability to excel on and off the ball at the next level."

The Sun Devils are also set to welcome the towering presence of center Duke Brennan (6-foot-10, 235 pounds), who is ranked as the No. 14 prospect out of the state of Arizona.