Sendek scores… adds top recruit, transfer to ASU basketball

You win some, you lose some.  There’s a lot of coming-and-going lately in the Arizona State men’s basketball program, so it’s getting hard to keep track of the score, but it would appear that Herb Sendek is at least breaking even – and may even be ahead in the recruiting game right now.

The seventh-year head coach of the Sun Devils has replaced the player he lost last week, but that was one who was serving in a part-time role last season and wasn’t an impact player at this point.  But at least one of the two he just acquired could become just that – a game changer.

Right now, they’re providing Sendek with an opportunity to get some much-needed positive press in the recruiting arena, something more often lavished on his rival down in Tucson, who has put together more than one Top 10 recruiting class in recent years.

The addition of Sai Tummala to the roster could give the Sun Devils some immediate floor time since he’s got a little college ball under his belt and will be available for the 2013-14 season.  The 6’6″ 212-pound transfer is a local product who averaged 17.7 points and eight rebounds a game a couple of years ago during his final season at Brophy Prep in Phoenix.

Tummala, the brother of Shilpa Tummala who was a starter on the St. Mary’s High School girls basketball team that a couple of years ago earned a No. 1 national ranking, spent a redshirt year at University of Michigan and then used a season at Salt Lake Community College in Utah to prepare himself for the transfer back to D-I.

At SLCC, Tummala was a first-team All-Region selection, averaged 14.5 points, and shot 41 percent from behind the arc.  The Bruins finished 29-5 and, at one point in the season, were ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation.

When he was ready to leave the JUCO game, Tummala had more than a dozen offers from programs like BYU, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Georgia.

But Tummala is about today at ASU.  Sendek also picked up some talent for the future.  His really important find will wait in the wings another year before graduating from Brentwood High School in Los Angeles.  Tra Holder just verbally committed to ASU, the latest of three commits to the Class of 2014 who is expected to be the heir apparent to Jahii Carson, who seriously considered throwing his hat in the NBA draft after his freshman season and will likely leave after one more tour at the controls of Sendek’s offense.

And that’s when the 6’1″ point guard from California will be ready to make the transition to the college game.  Whether he can step into the starting role as a freshman, as Carson did, remains to be seen.   But so far, the recruiting services like him.

After averaging 30 points and five assists as a junior at Brentwood, ranks Holder as the No. 137 prospect in the Class of 2014 and No. 7 guard in the state.

Evan Gordon, a junior guard who spent his first two years at Liberty University and contributed 10 points a game last season for the Devils, announced his departure from the ASU program last week.  Gordon moved from a starter to a reserve role for the final 10 games, when he averaged 7.6 points off the bench.

The addition of Tummala won’t likely provide a major impact next season, and Holder won’t suddenly position the Class of 2014 among the nation’s elite.  But Sendek has something to feel good about right now as he tries to continue building on a 22-13 season and second-round exit at the NIT.

The commitment of Holder has to be the best news he’s had since that day last month when Jahii Carson told his head coach he would be returning for another season.

And now his coach will be better prepared for that eventual departure – as long as Sendek can keep his future point guard under wraps until November when the kid will be allowed to sign a National Letter of Intent.

Until then, the future hangs on a handshake.

(Photo: ASU Athletics/ Steve Rodriguez)