Hurley shooting for historic haul

Arizona State has two Scout100 commitments and will try for a record third from among a few prospects ahead of the start of the fall signing period in early November.

The early signing period for basketball is just about a month and a half away and new Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley and his staff are working to put the finishing touches on their first recruiting class at the school.

Potentially, it could be a historical haul.

The Sun Devils currently have two Scout100 recruits committed and in the fold: Jethro Tshisumpa, a 6-foot-9, 260 pound center at Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Va., is the No. 75 overall recruit in the class; Sam Cunliffe, a 6-foot-7, 180 pound wing, is the No. 81 overall prospect nationally.

ASU has never signed three Scout100 recruits in a fall signing period. That could change this year if Hurley is able to keep sign his two commits and also land one of three remaining high profile recruits he's targeted in the class.

Thon Maker, the No. 5 overall recruit nationally, remains deeply involved with ASU.

At 7-feet, 200 pounds, Maker has rare court mobility and skill for a high school product, evoking a young Kevin Garnett. The Australian native and Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, power forward has yet to take official visits and may ultimately elect to wait until the spring to sign according to his mentor, Ed Smith, though that remains undetermined.

Earlier this month Maker hosted Hurley and ASU assistant Brian Merritt, whom Smith and Maker have known for years through Merritt's prior job at John Lucas Enterprises. ASU is one of the most mentioned programs in the Maker sweepstakes, with Indiana, Notre Dame and UNLV among the other schools in the running.An October visit with ASU has been discussed, but not finalized.

The Sun Devils are also strongly in the running for Mario Kegler, the No. 46 overall recruit in the Scout100 and a versatile 6-foot-7 forward who will play his senior year at legendary Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.

A Mississippi native, Kegler has already visited ASU twice in the six months since Hurley was hired, including his official visit to the school last weekend. Again, Merritt's preexisting relationship with Kegler has been of critical importance in getting the Sun Devils to this stage of the process.

Kegler's AAU coach Omhar Carter said ASU remains a strong contender for Kegler, who is going to visit Baylor officially this weekend. Indiana, LSU, Mississippi State, Maryland and Oklahoma State are also vying for official visits. It's been long believed that ASU and home-state Mississippi State are the front-runners for Kegler.

This weekend, a MBA Hoops teammate of Kegler will take his official visit to ASU as 6-foot-3 combo guard Tyson Carter will be in Tempe. Carter is ASU's third legitimate option to sign three Scout100 recruits for the first time in a fall signing class.

A Starkville, Miss., product who is the No. 78 overall recruit and No. 20 point guard nationally, Carter shot up the rankings following a strong July evaluation period that led to ASU and other high major scholarship offers.

Mississippi State is also recruiting Carter actively, with Memphis, Miami, and Ohio State all getting official visits as well. Carter is planning to sign in November.

Currently the Sun Devils have 11 players slotted to their 2016-17 roster with the inclusions of Cunliffe and Tshisumpa, assuming no attrition after this season. Colleges are allowed to keep 13 players on scholarship in any given semester.

In consideration of it having two remaining available spots, ASU is being very selective with its backcourt and wing forward recruiting. Eight of its 10 players scheduled to return after this season are guards and forwards and the other two, freshman Andre Adams and 2016 commit Tshisumpa, are unproven at the college level and may take time to be developed.

Adams recently tore his ACL for the second time in as many years and will redshirt this season. Tshisumpa can play immediately in college on the defensive end as a shot blocker, rim protector and rebounder, but is still early in his development offensively.

As a result, ASU's primary focus with finishing its 2016 class is with post players. In fact, according to sources, Carter is the only guard ASU would take ahead of signing day at this time, and Kegler is the only small forward. Maker isn't a center, but at 7-feet is an elite and versatile talent.

A lack of ready-made centers from the prep ranks is always a challenge and the Sun Devils will want someone who can step in for senior Eric Jacobsen right away after he departs following this season. Adams and Tshisumpa can't be assumed to handle that type of role, so ASU remains in the market for junior college and several foreign players who may be more ready to play immediately.

One such player is Darryln Willis, a 6-foot-8 power forward/center prospect at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss. ASU has already been to the school once this month during the evaluation period to watch Willis, and Hurley and ASU assistant Rashon Burno will be back Thursday as they more seriously court Willis, who has been extended a scholarship offer.

ASU is also recruiting two foreigners playing in the states, one of whom is Polish native Maciej Bender, a 6-foot-10 post player and teammate of Tshisumpa at Mountain Mission School. Georgia, Ole Miss and West Virginia are also actively recruiting Bender.

If the Sun Devils can't hit on their top targets in the fall it appears they'll be comfortable to go through the season and work to finalize their roster for 2016-17 in the spring signing period, when fifth-year graduate transfers and other junior college prospects with the potential of helping immediately in the post will become known.

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