ASU 2016 hoops recruiting overview

Arizona State has one Top-100 commit already in the fold in 2016 and is actively involved in recruiting a number of others. Here's an overview of the program's efforts heading into the heart of the summer.

The first of three all-important five-day July evaluation periods begins in less than two weeks and will be a key opportunity for Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley and his staff.

As it stands now the Sun Devils project to have no fewer than five scholarships available to be awarded in the 2016 class, which is extremely important for Hurley's success at the school. They already have one verbal commitment, from four-star Top-100 prospect Sam Cunliffe, a versatile guard/wing.

Unless Hurley signs another late-roster addition for the 2015-16 season -- which appears unlikely, though IMG Academy 6-foot-8 post Andre Adams remains a possibility -- he will have four additional rides to award in the 2016 class.

The Sun Devils currently have just 11 scholarship players out of a maximum 13 slotted for this this year, with two of those players, point guard Shannon Evans and wing Torian Graham, set to sit out the season post-transfer. Graham could theoretically win an appeal because he didn't play last year at Houston before transferring, but it seems unlikely to be awarded.

ASU's 2016-17 roster is scheduled to include Evans and Tra Holder at point guard, Andre Spight as a combo-guard, Graham, Kodi Justice and Maurice O'Field as wings, and Savon Goodman and Obinna Oleka as forwards. It is a group clearly heavy in guard talent and devoid of size in the post, with no player taller than 6-foot-8 and no true center.

So then, with their four remaining 2016 scholarships they can award, the Sun Devils will doubtlessly be intently focused on adding post talent with size into the fold. This is especially the case if they don't sign a 2015 post player late. The good news for ASU is that the West is loaded with high level post prospects in the class; certainly more so than at other position groups and when compared with what's typically been the case. Seven of Scout's Top-100 prospects in the class are west coast centers.

With the recent announcement by national Top-10 recruit Thon Maker that he will remain in the 2016 class instead of reclassifying to 2015, the versatile 7-footer is a top target. ASU and Indiana have been widely mentioned as front-runners in the sweepstakes for Maker, a Sudanese via Australia who plays at Athlete Institute Basketball Academy in Ontario, Canada.

But Maker isn't the only high profile target of the Sun Devils, and they aren't just looking at adding post players. With the four projected additional rides they'll likely take a center, a power forward, a wing forward and potentially another guard, or the best available prospect they can sign.

Here's a look at Cunliffe and 10 other top targets the Sun Devils are recruiting that we'll be following in July and perhaps beyond:

Sam Cunliffe -- It's important to keep Hurley's first high school commitment in the fold because Cunliffe has only improved his stock since pledging ASU weeks ago. His performance at the NBA Players Association Camp was well reviewed, and the versatile 6-foot-7 guard is likely to pick up additional high profile scholarship offers if he performs well in front of coaches in July. Cunliffe is close other ASU targets, including Top-50 ranked Mario Kegler, and every high profile commitment in the fold makes the next one easier, so ASU has to keep Cunliffe locked up.

Mario Kegler -- The No. 41 prospect nationally and a classic small forward at 6-foot-7 and 205 pounds, Kegler grew close to Cunliffe at the Pangos All-American Camp in the Los Angeles-area last month and then visited ASU on the same day as Cunliffe immediately thereafter. Kegler played for Adidas in an international event and then was teammates with Cunliffe on the squad that won the NBA Players Association Camp title in Virginia last week. Kegler is close with ASU assistant coach Brian Merritt, having known Merritt for a number of years already. A Mississippi native who preps at Arlington County Day School in Florida, the biggest challenge for ASU will be getting Kegler to agree to come West. Mississippi State may be the top challenger at the moment.

Thon Maker (pictured above) -- A rare and elite athletic specimen, Maker handles the ball and has perimeter game that more resembles a small forward than any other position despite being a legitimate 7-footer. At the college level he'll likely play power forward and be able to defend and play on the perimeter in a way that enables a team to also have a true center alongside him. Maker was said to be considering moving up his graduation to play as a mid-year transfer in the 2015 class but is now reportedly going to stay in the 2016 class. ASU and Indiana have been reported as front-runners by Scout.com and others, with Merritt again instrumental in the recruitment due to longstanding relationships that took root when he was working for John Lucas Enterprises, where Kegler and Maker have developed.

De'Ron Davis -- The No. 3 center prospect in the West and No. 54 overall recruit nationally, Davis would be the closest thing to Ike Diogu at Arizona State in the last decade or so since Diogu moved on. ASU is very aggressively courting Davis and telling the 6-foot-9, 240 pound nimble low post scorer that he can anchor the Sun Devils' interior. ASU has something to offer that other suitors -- a list that primarily includes Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, and Texas -- may not, which is the opportunity to start as a freshman. The Sun Devils just don't appear to have another good option at this point. Davis, out of Aurora (Colo.) Overland High, told us he's planning to make a trip to see ASU and Arizona soon, though it may not come until after the July period. Davis has enough mobility that he may be able to play some power forward.

Jethro Tshisumpa -- A defense-first 6-foot-9, 260 pound center who reportedly has a 7-foot-6 wingspan, Tshisumpa visited ASU Wednesday after proving to be a revelation at the NBA Players Association Camp last week. He led that camp by a wide margin with 2.6 blocks per game and was reviewed as an elite rim protector with the type of hands and feet that make him an upside play on offense long term. Odds are good Tshisumpa will move into the Top-100 in the next Scout update and the Sun Devils were ahead of the curve, as the first high major program to extend a scholarship offer. Tshisumpa told us he's likely to play through July before considering any commitment.

Brendan Bailey -- A former ASU commit under the previous coaching staff, Bailey also excelled at the NBA Players Association Camp, as one of the top 3-point shooters in the event by made baskets and percentage. Hurley visited Bailey very early in his ASU tenure and Bailey's sister is a volleyball player for the Sun Devils. That helps ASU's cause even though Bailey was close with former ASU staffers Stan Johnson and Barret Peery. Since de-committing, Bailey has blown up as a prospect, with Arizona and others offering a scholarship. That too will make it tough for the Sun Devils to land the 6-foot-7 small forward from Utah, who may go on a LDS Church Mission and re-classify to 2018 if so.

Taurean Thompson -- A recent Scout Top-100 addition in the 2016 class, Thompson made the Top-30 game at the high profile Pangos All-American Camp attended by SunDevilSource.com. At the event Thompson showed a very good understanding of the game and impressive fundamentals. He combines those skills with great length, at 6-foot-10, and flexibility. The No. 75 overall recruit nationally, Thompson is a stretch five man at the college level given his rare ability for a big man to shoot the ball to the 3-point line. Coached in high school at St. Anthony in Jersey City, N.J., by Bobby Hurley Sr., the father of ASU's head coach, the Sun Devils have an extra in that should keep them in the running until the end, at a minimum.

Mitch Lightfoot -- The only local player on this list, Lightfoot was once a New Mexico commit but re-opened his recruitment this spring and has subsequently met with Hurley on the ASU campus. At 6-foot-8, Lightfoot has a lot of bounce off the floor and can shoot the ball with good range. Arizona and Kanas have offered a scholarship and it appears likely Lightfoot will end up at one of the two in-state schools or at Kansas.

De'Riante Jenkins -- An athletic small forward out of Orlando, Jenkins is the No. 60 overall recruit nationally and No. 3 prospect at his position in the South. Like others on this list, Jenkins has a longstanding relationship with Merritt that puts ASU in the conversation, but he also has a very long list of suitors and will be a very tough prospect to pull out of the region.

Trevor Stanback -- The No. 65 overall prospect in the 2016 class and No. 6 center in the West, Stanback is a true post player at 6-foot-10 and 220 pounds, with long limbs and a defensive presence who is fundamental on that end of the floor and also corrals out of area rebounds. His offensive game continues to emerge and he's got a chance to be a very good Pac-12 player, which is why ASU, Cal, Oregon, Stanford and USC, among others, are actively recruiting him.

Eron Gordon -- The brother of former ASU player Evan Gordon and NBA player Eric Gordon, this Indianapolis (Ind.) North Center High School guard is known for his ability to score the ball at a high level. At 6-foot-2 he is the No. 81 prospect and No. 15 shooting guard in the 2016 class. ASU had a great chance with Gordon under the previous staff because Evan, in a mentorship role, was pushing for his brother to play in Tempe under a staff he played for and respected. There's still a chance of that carrying over to the new staff if the relationship is similarly pursued by both parties.


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