ASU’s Sendek snatches 4-star hoops recruit eyed by UofA

That sharp pain that Wildcat basketball coach Sean Miller experienced yesterday was probably from Herb Sendek poking him in the eye, figuratively of course.  But losing a prized recruit to the Arizona State coach had to hurt nonetheless.

Jahii Carson, a four-star point guard who played in ASU’s back yard at Mesa High School, committed yesterday to play for the Sun Devils.  He was at the top of UofA’s list of prospects, but now he becomes the latest to join ASU’s recruiting class of 2011.

The No. 10 rated player at his position, Carson had both ASU and UofA on a short list that included Oregon, UCLA, and St. Johns.  North Carolina even came into play just recently.

But Carson reportedly decided he had a better chance of getting on the floor in Tempe, since the Cats have been building a pretty deep stable of guards, beginning with the No. 1 prospect in the state this year, Daniel Bejarano from North High School in Phoenix.

In addition, Miller just added a top recruit for his 2011 class, Nick Johnson from Gilbert High School.  Johnson is the No. 8-ranked shooting guard in the country and just the first of several top guards Miller is after, including Quinn Cook, a Top 25 point guard from Maryland.

The Wildcat program has been recruiting Johnson since he was in eighth grade, and when Miller arrived before last season he picked up the ball and put a full-court press on the 6’3″ guard who will play his last year of high school ball for Findlay Prep in Nevada, a basketball powerhouse.

But Carson, a 5’11” jumping jack with a 42-inch vertical leap, has been sitting at the top of Miller’s wish list to round out his 2011 class.  He would have given the Cats a home-grown backcourt of Johnson and Carson.

He joins Sidiki Johnson, a 6’9″ wing from New York City who committed earlier this summer, as the latest recruits for 2011.

It was reported that Carson had been leaning toward the Cats and Miller has been following him during the summer, catching as many games as he can.  Carson played for the Compton Magic club team, which closed out the summer in a series of tournaments in California.  Miller, or one of his staff, caught them all.

But Carson admits that Sendek and the ASU staff has been in his shadow all summer and used their own version of a full-court press to get his commitment.  He decided on the Devils yesterday following an informal workout at the school.

Carson makes up for his size by penetrating and dishing passes to his teammates – but can also score over taller defenders, thanks to his leaping ability.  He has great court awareness and knows the game well.

Sendek’s recruiting skills are part of what VP Athletics Lisa Love saw when she hired Sendek away from North Carolina State in April of 2006.  His rebuilding process has included three straight years of 20-plus wins and the 2009-10 Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

For the coming season, the 47-year-old head coach has brought in some size, including 7’2″ Jordan Bachynski who was one of the top prep players in Canada and is returning from a Mormon mission, and 6’7″ forward Chanse Creekmur who was the leading scorer at his Iowa high school (20 ppg) and a first-team All Stater.

Sendek has also added the first junior college recruit since coming to ASU.  Brandon Dunson is a 6’2″ guard from Wabash Valley CC, where he averaged 12 points and five assists, and shot 45 percent from behind the arc.

But the real proof of this year’s recruiting class will be in the backcourt.  Sendek has added local favorite, Corey Hawkins, and Keala King from Mater Dei HS in California.

Hawkins, a 6’1″ combo guard from Estrella Foothills HS in Goodyear, set a school record last season by scoring 56 points in one game; it was just a point shy of the 3A record.  King is a 6’6″ swing man who is listed at No. 8 at his position by Rivals.com.

Jahii Carson is a great catch for Sendek, even if his arrival is a year away.  The fact that he might have been headed to his rival in Tucson just makes it that much sweeter.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)