Hey, Jahii…what about that ‘unfinished business’?

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                </div>  It won’t happen, but it would be easy to understand if Jahii Carson were questioning his decision earlier this season to turn pro. The emotional drain is undoubetdly still […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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It won’t happen, but it would be easy to understand if Jahii Carson were questioning his decision earlier this season to turn pro.

The emotional drain is undoubetdly still lingering today after Arizona State was eliminated from the NCAA men’s tournament last night on a shot at the buzzer.  And that’s when doubts can cloud the mind.

The sophomore point guard, who was highly touted as the savior for the Sun Devil program after graduating from nearby Mesa High School, led his ASU team in scoring and assists in his freshman year and set freshman records for points, field goals attempted and made, and assists.  In fact, his 177 total assists that year were the most by a freshman in school history.

But, despite those achievements, he was willing to pass up the NBA draft and return to Tempe to take care of what he called ‘unfinished business.’

The 2013 Sun Devils had to settle for a sixth-place finish in the Pac-12 and an invitation to the NIT instead of the Big Dance, so Carson set some specific goals for himself and his team this season.  He offered publicly a list of achievements he felt necessary before leaving college early for the NBA.

Carson wanted to win more than 20 games, win the Pac-12 regular season and then the conference championship, earn Pac-12 Player of the Year honors, be an All-American selection, and take his team to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

That last goal for this season ended abruptly last night when the Texas Longhorns knocked the Sun Devils out of the tournament in the opening game for both teams, beating ASU when Texas center Cameron Ridley out-fought the Devil defenders for a rebound off a missed three-point shot and put it back up and into the hoop with .2 seconds left on the clock.

The 87-85 loss was the culmination of a season that had already begun to nosedive, as the Devils lost their final four games and six of their last eight.  It marked the first time since 2009 that ASU made it into the tournament, but with Carson at the controls and 7-foot Jordan Bachyknski roaming the paint, hopes were high that this edition of the Sun Devils might give their long-suffering fans something more to cheer about – and for a little while longer.

But Carson & Company went out on a good game. They averaged just 75 points a game during the regular season, but scored 85 against the Longhorns, who were seeded No. 7 in the tourney (ASU was 10th-seeded) and actually out-rebounded Texas, 32-30, in an area where they’ve been pretty weak all season long.  Bachynski put up 25 points in one of his best games of the year, while Carson added 19 and Jermaine Marshall chipped in 17.

That being said, this was not the deep run that Carson had set as one of his goals.  They did win more than 20 games (just barely with 21) but didn’t win the regular season title, finishing 10-8 and getting thrown together in a five-team logjam at third place.

And then they were knocked out of the Pac-12 Tournament in the quarterfinals when Stanford beat them by 21 points.  Another miss.

He also didn’t get the Pac-12 Player of the Year nod.  That went to Arizona’s Nick Johnson down in Tucson.  And the Wildcats are the state’s Pac-12 team likely to go deep into the tournament.

But Carson sounds ready to move on as he talked during the media interview after last night’s game:  “I’ve had great coaches, I’ve had great mentors, people to help guide me, just not in the basketball aspect of my life, but outside, my personal life… I look back at it and I have no regrets.”

The 5’10” Carson put on some weight last summer to build his body in preparation for the pro game, and then attended a variety of NBA camps to learn from the pros and evaluate his game in that environment.

So he’s ready for the next level and will be picked up, probably in the early rounds, by an NBA team.  But it would have been nice if he had taken care of that unfinished business before leaving his old team.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)