Strange times for ASU hoops…Cain, Creekmur latest to go

Will the last men’s basketball player leaving ASU please turn out the gym lights?

Yeah, it’s an old joke.  But head coach Herb Sendek isn’t laughing.  However, the mass exodus out of his program is becoming a springboard for snide humor.

Sophomore forward, Kyle Cain, is the latest to turn in his maroon and gold uni.  And his departure comes just 10 days after Chanse Creekmur, a sophomore swingman between guard and forward, packed his bags.

(Upate: Add Trent Lockett to the list.  The Sun Devils’ top scorer and rebounder reportedly has asked Sendek to release his scholarship, planning to depart the team to be able to play at a school closer to his Minnesota home.  The 6’4″ junior guard averaged 13 points and nearly six rebounds per game last season.)

And, depending on whose statistics you use, Cain is either the ninth or eleventh scholarship player to step away from the ASU program over the last four years.  Using either number, it certainly raises eyebrows.

It’s especially puzzling in the case of these two players.  Both of them had significant roles this past season; Cain played in 29 games and Creekmur 30 games.  Each was being groomed for expanding roles over the next couple of years.

Cain averaged just over 23 minutes a game this season, averaging 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. He was a hard-nosed, high-energy type of player who set the tone in his freshman year when his 5.4 rebounds per game made him the sixth-best freshman in program history in that category.

Creekmur was often called the team’s “purest shooter” and it was hoped he would become a key to the Sun Devils improving their 3-point shooting stats.  They were almost at the bottom of the Pac-12 in that category this year.

His final official act for ASU was to lead the team in scoring in the final game of the year, posting 13 points in the loss to Stanford in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament.

Perhaps Creekmur was honest when he said he was leaving to find a school closer to his home in Iowa, one where he could also play football.  In addition to being the all-time leading basketball scorer at Marshalltown High School, he was also a top-rated quarterback that led his team to a state football title as a senior.

But, still… he’s leaving an opportunity to play – and maybe leave some new marks – at a Pac-12 university.  He drained six treys in a game last season against Oregon State, finishing with 24 points.  And he had two more years to get better.

Cain, on the other hand, seemed to be trending downward this year.  His playing time decreased toward the end of the season and his attitude apparently went south with the playing time.  Sendek had to bench him for a couple of conference games.

And that’s what makes the Cain situation even more puzzling.  At some point, his relationship with his head coach began to deteriorate after his freshman season when he had warm fuzzies for Sendek.

“Coach Sendek was a guy I could connect to and relate to,” he said on the team’s website.  “I think he can help me become a better person.”

In an article by Jack Magruder on the Fox Sports Arizona site, he was even more enthused about his new coach.  “I really love that man,” he was quoted as saying.  “He showed a lot of love for me, too.  He wanted me and needed me in the program, and it shows.

“It’s been everything he told me it was going to be, so I’m happy with my decision (to enroll).  I love ASU.”

The love is apparently gone now.  And so is Kyle Cain.  And Chanse Creekmur.

And a bunch of other guys who also seem to have fallen out of love with the fork.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)