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Arizona State: Three X-Factors for 2021-2022 Season

The Sun Devils open their 2021-2022 season with a home opener against Portland.

The time for basketball in Tempe has returned, as the Arizona State Sun Devils are set to tip off the new season against the Portland Pilots. 

All eyes are on Bobby Hurley, as the Arizona State head coach is looking to lead the Sun Devils back to the NCAA Tournament following their exclusion last season. 

Major names have departed from last season, as guys such as Josh Christopher (NBA Draft), Remy Martin (transfer to Kansas) and Alonzo Verge (transfer to Nebraska) are no longer on the roster. 

However, Arizona State again looks to field a competitive squad, potentially possessing a team that could make serious noise down the stretch of the season. 

In order for that to happen, a total team effort will be needed from top to bottom for the Sun Devils to go dancing far past anybody's expectations in March. 

Every player will have a role to play in Arizona State's success, yet a few will need to rise above the rest and establish themselves as leaders on (and off) the court. 

Arizona State: Three X-Factors for 2021-2022 season

Marcus Bagley

After initially testing the waters of heading to the NBA, Bagley returned to the team and stayed after Martin and Verge did the same before entering the transfer portal. Bagley now finds himself leading a Sun Devils team with a handful of new but potentially impactful players. 

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Bagley, voted as one of a handful of "players hardest to guard" from an anonymous Pac-12 players poll from The Athletic, looks to provide a strong presence again as a forward. Injuries derailed him last year, and it's time for Bagley to prove he's ready to enter the pros with a strong season on the wing. 

Marreon Jackson

After two guards departed Arizona State, the Sun Devils welcomed three new players in the backcourt via the transfer portal, one of which was reigning MAC player of the year Marreon Jackson. 

Jackson averaged 18.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists at Toledo prior to making the jump to Arizona State, and looks to provide a strong scoring presence on the floor for the Sun Devils. 

For a team labeled "Guard U," play in the backcourt will again be vital for a Hurley-coached squad. Jackson looks to continue down the path set by a recent string of strong guard play for Arizona State, and his prowess of putting the ball in the basket will be counted on to keep the Sun Devils in close games down the stretch.

Enoch Boakye

Our third (and final) X-factor hasn't played a second of college basketball, as Boakye is a freshman center that was once committed to Michigan State. Boakye changed his mind, came to Arizona State and was able to reclassify to 2021 and play immediately. 

The Canadian center can be quite the game-changer once fully acclimated, and would pay dividends for a Sun Devils team that would be undoubtedly well-rounded should Boakye progress in his first season. The 6-foot-10 center has all the potential to eventually become a monster in the post both offensively and defensively.

His contributions may not be felt right away. However, a truly dominant presence in the paint could develop in the form of Boakye.