ASU basketball finds a back-court mate for Jahii

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                </div>If Jermaine Marshall is able to bring his Big 10 show to the Pac-12, the Arizona State Sun Devils can begin making plans for their first appearance in the NCAA […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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If Jermaine Marshall is able to bring his Big 10 show to the Pac-12, the Arizona State Sun Devils can begin making plans for their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2009.

Marshall, who decided to play another year of college ball rather than follow his original plan to move on to begin a professional basketball career overseas, will use a final season of eligibility to play at ASU after he graduates from Penn State next month.

And he will be a perfect fit for the Sun Devil program.

At Penn State, he teamed with D.J. Newbill to become the second-highest-scoring back court tandem in the Big 10.  Together, they put up 32 points a game in conference play.

At ASU, he will pair up with Jahii Carson, one of the best young point guards in the country, to try to capture the same magic in Tempe.  He will more than fill the void left at the shooting guard spot when Evan Gordon suddenly decided to leave the ASU program to play for Indiana, where he will be closer to his family for his final year.

Gordon, who averaged 32 minutes a game in his only season with the Devils, was expected to stake a claim to the shooting-guard role this coming season.  But his contributions tapered off toward the end of the season, when he took on a reserve role for the final 10 games and averaged just 7.6 points a game.

Marshall played in 31 games for the Nittany Lions last season, but he averaged 15.3 points and 2.6 assists a game and made a living behind the arc, where he led the team with 59 three-pointers.  He finished at PSU with 808 points, 108 three’s to put him No. 12 on the school’s all-time list, and had 46 games where he scored in double digits.

His game is similar in a lot of ways to Carson’s.  The 6’4″ wing is a slasher who gets to the basket off the dribble and finishes at the rim; he was drawing almost five fouls a game last season.  Carson averaged 18.5 points and five assists during a freshman season that ended with All-Pac-12 first team honors.

Putting the two of them together on the floor will give defenses a lot to think about.

“(Marshall) has a deceptive pace to his play, but he can get past defenders and is a great finisher with long arms,” is the way his head coach at PSU, Patrick Chambers, puts it.

The value of his offensive contributions was evident last year when his 25 points – including six of 10 from behind the arc – led the Nittany Lions to an 84-78 upset of No. 4 Michigan.  The impact of that victory hits home when you consider that Penn State was not a very good team, finishing the season 10-21.

It looked like Shaquielle McKissic might be stepping in to pair with Carson, and we said so in an article a few weeks back.  The late-June acquisition from a Washington junior college had some college-level experience and was expected to bring the scoring needed at that position.  But he may have lost the opportunity to get a good share of playing time with the arrival of the Big 10 talent.

Marshall was said to have been considering offers from teams like North Carolina and Florida State.

And he should be able to post even better numbers than he did at Penn State since he is transitioning to a better team in Tempe; ASU was an NCAA bubble team last season that finished 22-13 and advanced to the second round of the NIT.  The Devils return three key starters from that team: Carson, 7-foot senior center Jordan Bachynski, and 6’7″ junior forward Jonathan Gilling.

With the roster that head coach Herb Sendek had already put together in the off-season, it would have been a huge disappointment if the Sun Devils didn’t get into the NCAA Tournament next March – especially since this will likely be Carson’s last season before moving on to the NBA.

Now, with the late addition of Marshall to complement Carson’s game and create possibly the best back court in the Pac-12, it would be much more than just a disappointment.

But, whatever happens, the new dynamic duo should make this a fun team to watch.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)