Carson makes Sun Devil pledge official

Protecting its home turf in recruiting is something the ASU basketball team takes a lot of pride in and no recruit this year symbolizes that goal more than Jahii Carson, who signed his letter of intent with the Sun Devils on Friday afternoon. has ranked Carson no. 7 among the nation's 2011 point guards and he is the highest ranking local recruit to ever sign with ASU.

The Mesa High School point guard didn't discount the hometown factor as a reason for signing with the Sun Devils, because his family's support is extremely important to him. Nonetheless, Carson who originally committed to Oregon State in May of 2009, did admit that it was overall a hard decision.

"I had pretty much every Pac-10, Big-12 school after me to play at their school," Carson recalled. " (Arizona State head) Coach Sendek kept it real with me. He told me everything he wanted me to do at ASU. He wanted me to push the tempo, and bring defensive intensity.

"I was the home town guy who was a high profile player in the state of Arizona. He said that I'd be the first really good point guard to come out of Arizona to go to Arizona State. Most of the other guards would go to U of A and I can change the tradition by going to Arizona State and that's one thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to lead by example."

"We are really excited to have Jahii joining the Sun Devil family officially today," said Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek in a press conference hours after Carson signed his letter. "I had a chance to watch his live press conference in the office and it was an exciting moment I know for Jahii and his family and the entire Sun Devil nation.

"He's very good in the open floor. He can break defenders down. He has a burst of speed that is extraordinary. He has a lot of natural leadership ability, he's likeable and he's easy to gravitate to. Those are qualities that are very important in a lead guard. He's an extremely talented young man, quick off the bounce. He can beat you with his shot, as well as with his pass."

A program's progression is something that obviously affects recruiting and Sendek acknowledged that landing a player of Carson's caliber is naturally easier to achieve now than it was when he started his ASU tenure in 2006.

"We've better positioned ourselves in recruiting," Sendek said, "Not that it's ever easy – it's so competitive to get good players. We most certainly have a lot of work to do in that area. I don't think that will ever change.

"But I think we improved our perception and that has helped us get a guy like Jahii. He has a lot of gravitational pull and that's something we can sell and promote in our program. To play with a good point guard, who is charismatic certainly can't hurt."

Jackrabbits' head coach Shane Burcar believes ASU is getting a player who is just as dynamic off the court as he is on it.

"He'll lead by example, he'll lead by his voice," Burcar noted, "He gains instant credibility with his play. But more than anything the Sun Devils will be getting a great point guard and he's hungry to be successful.

"It's a great day to be a Jackrabbit. It reminds me when you're a little kid and you have dreams and you shoot the basketball so much that the tips of your fingers are sore. Without Vanae and Jonathan (Jahii's parents) Jahii wouldn't be half the man that he is right now or the basketball player. He spent many many hours in the gym. Today a dream does come true and it's absolute privilege to coach Jahii."

As a junior Jahii Carson shot 43% from three-point range. He averaged 23.3 points, 5.5 assists and 2.2, 2.0 steals a game for Mesa who finished 25-5 this past season and reached the state's 5A-1 state tournament quarterfinals.

"In my senior year I want to win a state championship," Carson remarked. "I want to be known as a player that has won a state championship. There are many players that have come through the state and haven't won a state championship and I don't want to be one of those players.

"I want to make a positive contribution to the team. I don't want to overstep my boundaries in any way. I just want to come in and play my role."

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