Poor Herb Sendek. Even when the ASU basketball coach catches a break off the court, it gets offset with a loss on the court.
Sendek, whose team is struggling to overcome a 4-5 start to the season, just got a contract extension despite the team’s slow start.
But on the heels of the two-year extension came word that his point guard-in-waiting will have to wait even longer. Until next year, to be exact.
Jahii Carson, the crowd favorite from nearby Mesa High School, has been waiting to play all through the post-season and the first nine games on the schedule, as the NCAA was fumbling around trying to make a ruling on whether he was academically eligible after taking a summer online course at a junior college.
The word came down from on-high yesterday. And it wasn’t good.
Carson, the No. 10 prep prospect in the country at his point-guard position and the highest-rated recruit from inside the state ever to sign with ASU, has been ruled ineligible to play this season. But at least now he can begin practicing with the team and sitting on the bench with his teammates during games.
As of now, he will begin next season as a sophomore at ASU, but could get back his year of eligibility by hitting the books, keeping up his grades, and making enough progress toward graduation to satisfy the NCAA.
Just before the NCAA’s announcement of Carson’s ineligibility, the Arizona Board of Regents approved a two-year extension for Sendek, who is in his sixth season at the helm after leaving North Carolina State to try and revive a stalled program in Tempe.
The 47-year-old coach’s contract now runs through June of 2016 and continues his $1.2 million salary.
Sendek’s squad went 8-22 his first year on the job, but then he turned the tables and strung together three straight 20-win seasons. But the momentum stalled last year, as the Sun Devils finished with a dismal 12-19 mark and a last-place finish in the Pac-10.
To make matters worse this season, their 4-5 start includes three losses on their home court. No way to win over the fans.
Those fans have been looking forward to being able to watch Carson bring a spark to the ASU offense. The kid is only 5’10”, but makes up for his size by penetrating and dishing to his teammates, and his 42-inch vertical leap enables him to leap tall defenders in a single bound and do his own scoring.
And that’s just what distinguished his prep career. He set single-season records at Mesa High, scoring 32.2 points a game and dishing off an average of 6.6 assists every night.
But now Sendek has to move on and find a way to win without the point guard that was heralded to be this program’s savior this year.
However, a new contract should help ease the pain. Just a little.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)