Seattle hoops standout to visit ASU Monday

Arizona State has made a good impression on Seattle 6-foot-6 guard Sam Cunliffe and he will visit the school in coming days.

CARSON, Calif. -- After recently establishing a good dialogue with new Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, a basketball figured he's long admired, Sam Cunliffe figured he might as well visit the school in person.

So instead of flying straight home to Seattle, Wash., at the conclusion of the Pangos All-American Camp in this Los Angeles suburb Sunday, the 6-foot-6 utility guard plans to take a little detour to Tempe instead.

"Coach Hurley saw me in the EYBL circuit, I think it was the second one in Kentucky (in late April)," Cunliffe said. "He saw me and just liked my height and how I handle the ball. He said he liked how I'm not that worried about scoring, I'm going to pass the ball, make the right play. If someone is open I'm going to try to get it to them. I'm always confident in my ability to score so that's always going to be there and it's more about creating so everyone is playing together (at a high level).

"Hearing that from him was big. I've always looked up to coach Hurley because I've been a Duke fan my whole life. So I've studied his game. I've known (ASU assistant) coach Brian Merritt through John Lucas (Enterprises, where Merritt formerly worked). I was talking with coach Stan (Johnson) when he was at ASU but he's at Marquette now. But I have a great relationship with the new ASU coaches."

Cunliffe, who is transferring to Rainier Beach High School this year, likes the Sun Devils so much in fact that they're currently at the top of his list along with a fellow Pac-12 school, and ahead of reported scholarship offers from Colorado, Gonzaga, Utah, Washington and Washington State.

"Coach Hurley told me I'm a top priority for him so I'm actually going to go there on Monday for an unofficial visit," Cunliffe said."I've talked with coach Merritt a lot too. They've just told me they really like my game and my future. ASU is definitely in my Top-2 right now along with Cal.

"I'm just interested in finding out more from them as far as how they see for me, what their plans are, just see what they have in store for me if I did go there. We've been talking a lot on the phone but it's better in person. I can see where I might live, where i would play, the area, things like that. I'm just trying to get to know them better."

Cunliffe is looked at by most analysts as a versatile wing who can handle the ball, but he seems himself long-term as a point guard who likes to distribute the ball and set up teammates as much as he does score it. This summer he'll play for his AAU team at events in Anaheim, Las Vegas and Seattle, using the time to showcase his game in front of more college coaches before narrowing his focus further ahead of a likely fall decision

"I still feel like nobody has really seen me play," Cunliffe said. "I've been to some things but haven't really shown what I could do. So I think my plan is to wait through summer and then see who offers, if anyone else does, and then go from there. I'm trying to go to the next level after college so point guard is the best chance probably. So I want to see how teams are going to use me in their offense and what types of opportunities I'll have to maximize my potential."

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