Harden Names Sun Devils as his Leader

Not since Ike Diogu, has such a high profile recruit given ASU such serious consideration. The new coaching staff headed by Herb Sendek has pursued blue chipper James Harden for several weeks now. Following an unofficial visit to Tempe, as well as a last-minute canceled visit to Tucson, the coveted Artesia High School (Calif.) guard has put the maroon and gold at the top of his list.

"It was great, I liked it," said the 6-5 185 James Harden about his unofficial trip to Arizona State. "The coaches were very nice, and I really liked the area. I was impressed with the coaching staff. They know what they're doing, and they're planning a lot of improvements to the program like a new practice gym."

"In the beginning, they (ASU) were just one school I was visiting," continued Harden. "All the schools that offered me were even. I know this was my first visit, but the school just fits me perfect. Arizona State is my leader."

Originally, Tempe was to suppose to be just a layover for the four-star prospect, en route to Tucson, where the University of Arizona is holding its basketball camp. However, his Sun Devil jaunt made him change his mind and perspective concerning ASU's archrivals. "At Arizona State I'm the main guy," explained Harden. "With Arizona, they have many guys they're already recruiting. I want the school I'm visiting…to know I'm their main guy. I have no idea right now if I will visit Arizona later."

Scott Pera, ASU's new Director of Basketball Operations, coached Harden at Artesia (Lakewood, Calif.) last season, when the school won the state title achieving a 33-1 record in the process. This naturally begs the question how much of an influence will Pera's hiring help the maroon and gold land one of the nation's top high school shooting guards. "It will make an impact in my decision," admitted Harden. "But at the visit, the ASU coaches were just like him. They were cool, relaxed…they have the mentality that they want to win now. That's the mentality I have at high school and that's the type of school I want to go to."

The James Harden sweepstakes will come to an end, at least according to the player himself, "in the next couple of weeks." The guard is unsure whether he will make his decision during one of the several AAU tournaments he will participate in, or in the middle of July when a one-week break takes place between those aforementioned events. "I might take more visits," he said, "maybe to Washington…I just don't know yet."

Nevertheless one thing is for certain – the new Sun Devil basketball staff has been making a deep impact in a relative short amount of time. Landing Harden would be just one more impressive achievement in already a long list of events that has brought the smile back to the faces of the ASU basketball fans…

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