First, a global virus that came out of nowhere forced the cancellation of the postseason for Bobby Hurley‘s Arizona State basketball team, which was poised to make its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
And now Hurley has to watch as next year‘s team roster begins to unravel, unable to stem the flow of departures.
The most significant impact to the potential that ASU had for next season came exactly one week ago when Remy Martin announced his plans to declare for the next NBA draft, skipping his final year of eligibility. The three-time All Pac-12 point guard averaged 19 points, to lead all ASU players and put him second in the conference in scoring. He also contributed four assists a game.
The next day, Romello White joined him. The 6’8″ junior forward finished the abbreviated 2019-20 season as the No. 2 rebounder in the Pac-12, averaging 8.8 boards for the season, to go with 10 points a game. He had 13 games with double-figure rebounding and was an intimidating presence in the paint.
Martin (in photo above, with Hurley) was the face of the program this season, making his departure even more newsworthy. He was a big reason ASU was considered by many to be a serious contender for the Pac-12 title next season and expected to start the season ranked in the Top 25 in the nation.
Both players have the option to withdraw their names from draft consideration and return to school, if they do so by June 30. However, Hurley has to begin planning without them.
In addition to Martin and White, the ASU team next season will be without four players who have elected to transfer, two of which provided much-needed help off the bench.
Khalid Thomas played in 23 games last season, averaging 8.5 minutes a game, and Elias Valtonen appeared in 19 games, averaging 14 minutes.
The other two transferring were community college transfer Andre Allen, who saw just five minutes of court time last season, and walk-on Kyle Feit.
Thomas, a 6’9″ forward who came into the program as the No. 2 junior college player in the nation, averaged 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. Valtonen, a 6’7″ guard from Finland, gave Hurley some additional size in the back court and a true three-point shooting threat.
Martin would have been a senior next season, and Valtonen a junior, providing some maturity and experience when needed, often in crunch time when fouls mount on the starters.
Hurley will now have to plug a lot of holes in his 2020-21 roster. And he will be re-loading at a time when the NCAA has issued recruiting bans to address the coronavirus threat. Coaches can’t be out on the recruiting trail, as they normally would be at this time, nor can recruits make campus visits.
Last year, Hurley had to turn to community college recruits when he found himself in a similar situation, due to transfers and a departure to the NBA.
It looks like that could become his fall-back option again this year.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)