Hoops Preview part II – Player Analysis

In this second and last part of the ASU Hoops team preview, our staff breaks down each of the players' skills, last year's accomplishments, and this year's expectations.

Justin Allen – Jr., PF/C (6'8", 225 lbs.)

Last season: "J Bird" played in 24 games last year after utilizing a redshirt season the previous year to battle Hodgkin's Disease. Justin averaged 5.7 minutes and 1.8 points per contest. Those numbers do not tell the story, though. His presence on the court and his attitude in fighting through his sickness were more important to the team than anything he could have done on the court.

This season: By all accounts, Allen is much stronger coming into this season having gained as much as 25 pounds and even growing an inch or so. His stamina and shot have improved as time has passed since treatment of the disease. Look for Justin to see some time backing up Ike Diogu at the center position, and possibly at the power forward position if matchups allow. His outside touch and fearless attitude should provide solid contributions over the course of the season.

Jamie Andrisevic – Fr., PF/SF (6'9", 215 lbs.) Last season: Played at Johnson County Community College in Overland, Kansas.

This season: Will provide another a tall, versatile practice player.

Serge Angounou – Fr., SF/PF (6'8", 230 lbs.)

Last season: Against the best team in the state, Hobbs High School, and Arizona recruit Chris Dunn, Angounou posted 43 points on 11 of 16 shooting, including a perfect 18 of 18 from the free throw line. He also grabbed 10 boards in that game. Angounou went on to be named New Mexico State Player of the Year.

This season: Will redshirt after injuring his knee in the first exhibition game of the season. Angounou is expected to be back at full strength this spring.

Jason Braxton – So., PG (6'2", 190 lbs.)

Last season: JB played in all 29 games during his freshman campaign, starting 20 of them. As with virtually all freshmen players, his season had its positives and negatives. On the bright side, Braxton improved steadily as the season progressed and played some of his best basketball toward the end of the season, averaging nearly 9 points in his last 10 games. Additionally, he showcased his great athleticism with some highlight reel dunks. In an interesting quirk, ASU won the three big games in which Jason scored one of his high flying jams – a nice cross-over move and one handed jam on Oregon, a perfect give and go from Chad Prewitt on Arizona, and the ESPN.com award winning facial on Dan Gadzuric of UCLA. Unfortunately, the season also exposed some weaknesses in the freshman's game. Braxton only shot 43.2% from the charity stripe, 38.5% overall from the field (17.4% from behind the arc), and was third on the team in turnovers. Jason himself described his play as follows: "Somewhat disappointing. I felt I could be a difference maker if I hit more free throws or open shots. I let our opponents play 4 on 5 because they played zone and didn't respect my shot. I did OK pushing the ball, but when we got to the half court set I felt like I hurt the team."

This season: JB has been a constant fixture in the gym the entire off-season. He says, "I've been trying to get a couple thousand jump shots a week since July. Last year teams played zone against us, and slacked off me. So, I think the extra work I put in will help me out a lot. The extra work probably helped me psychologically more than anything else. I have more confidence in my shot and I'm ready to step up when we need the big shot from the outside. I also worked a lot on my defense, and just running the offense in general. I need to do a good job to set up our scorers. I worked out a lot with Curtis (Millage), and we have a great chemistry between us." Even with the thousands of jump shots, JB will not be mistaken for Reggie Miller, but his play in pick-up games and early practices shows that he should be enough of a threat from the outside to keep defenses honest. With the NBA athleticism he possesses if Braxton's shot and defense have improved he will be a strong cog in the Sun Devils' backcourt machine.

Kenny Crandall – Jr., SG/SF (6'3", 200 lbs.)

Last season: Kenny returned from a 2 year LDS church mission to Eugene, Oregon and played in 23 games last season, starting eight of those contests. Crandall averaged 18.7 minutes per game and was really the only consistent outside shooter on the Devils' roster. He was used extensively to shoot over the tops of zone defenses and in situations where ASU needed a big outside shot. Kenny shot a respectable 42.2% from behind the arc and 75.0% from the free throw line.

This season: Crandall broke his leg in a dirt bike accident in the off season. The injury has limited his practice time and his conditioning has undoubtedly suffered. Kenny's playing time will be impacted more by the addition of Jamal Hill than his injury, though. However, Crandall will still be called upon to contribute off the bench. His shooting will earn him some playing time, but his defensive shortcomings will limit KC's time on the floor.

Dewy Dewitt – Fr., PF/C (6'8", 227 lbs.)

Last season: Spent the previous 2 years on a mission in Peru. Originally joined the team on an academic scholarship and played his high school ball in Show Low, Arizona.

This season: A solid good shooting practice player who may see some time on the floor late in already decided games.

Ike Diogu – Fr., C (6'8", 250 lbs.)

Last season: Ike dominated opponents during his senior season, averaging 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks per contest while shooting a remarkable 77.8% from the field. That performance landed him on many recruiting gurus' top 50 lists and also caused many "big name" hoops programs to solicit his services (e.g., Illinois, UCONN). He was named to the Dallas Morning News All-Area first team.

This season: Ike will start at the center position, although some believe his skills are actually better suited for a power forward. Diogu will provide a solid presence in the paint defensively. He's usually gets fouled, scores, or both when he receives the ball in good post position. Without a true center on the team, Ike will receive substantial playing time this season and will have to quickly adjust to the college game. When asked about the transition from high school, Ike states, "You just have to work a whole lot harder. You're not playing against 6'4" post players anymore. School is definitely tuff, just because the amount of work is more than high school. You just take it one step at a time. I think I'm making the transition pretty well." The Sun Devils will rely on a smooth transition by Ike. He will need to play well if the team wants to succeed.

Kyle Dodd – Sr., PG (6'0", 175 lbs.)

Last season: Kyle saw action in every contest last season and started nine ball games. He provided steady leadership at the point guard position, posting a very respectable 3.2 assists per turnover. However, KD's offense limited his playing time. He only shot 34.4% from the field and 67.5% from the line. At times, he showed flashes of becoming more aggressive, but often reverted to the passive style that allowed Jason Braxton to win the starting role after only a few games.

This season: Reportedly, Dodd played very well offensively in LA area Say No Classic summer league, but he showed the same ability last summer before having a mediocre ASU season. Nevertheless, He was more aggressive taking the ball to the hole and created good opportunities for his teammates. Kyle will need to continue his aggressive play, or he may see some of his minutes at point guard go to Curtis Millage when Jason Braxton is not in the game. Nonetheless, when Kyle is in the game fans know that he will make good decisions and that he will not turn the ball over. In short, he will provide solid leadership of the bench at the point guard position.

Brandon Goldman – Sr., PG (5'9", 175 lbs.)

Last season: BG only appeared in 4 games last season, but his affect on the team stems much more from practice than during games. Brandon is loved by his teammates and is known as the future coach on the team. He is happy to help out when players want to shoot some extra jumpers or work on other fundamentals.

This season: BG has already provided a great contribution this season. He was one of the main players in the gym working with Jason Braxton's jump shot. He will continue to help the younger players along in practice and will also help sell recruits that visit ASU. Finally, Brandon provides one of the student section's favorite cheers at the end of a lopsided victory, "We want Goldman! We want Goldman!" He is a team and fan favorite.

Jamal Hill – Jr., SF/SG (6'5", 290 lbs.)

Last season: Averaged 22.5 points per contest while also shooting over 40% from three-point range. Jamal was listed as a national top 50 JUCO talent by most recruiting services and selected ASU over Kansas.

This season: Jamal will provide much needed additional outside scoring threat for the Devils. He is also a better athlete than many people realize and uses his athleticism to get to the basket or pull up for a mid-range jump shot. Jamal describes his play, "I bring some leadership and toughness, a threat on the perimeter. I know I have to be consistent with my shot, but I feel that I will be the guy they go to if they need a basket." The main factor in Jamal's playing time will be how fast he can adapt to Coach Evan's defensive style and demands. If he can play consistent defense, look for Hill to get significant minutes and possibly earn the starting small forward position, but also seeing minutes as a shooting guard in a backup capacity.

Donnell Knight – Sr., SG/SF (6'7", 200 lbs.)

Last season: As has been the case over his career as a Sun Devil Donnell showed flashes of the talent that had him listed above Casey Jacobsen on many scouts' recruiting lists during his senior season; however, he also showed the lack of aggressiveness and intensity that has limited his minutes since arriving at ASU. Donnell played in 28 games, averaging 13.4 minutes per contest. In those minutes, he averaged 3.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Toward the end of the season, he played well in a few games, including a strong drive to the basket and monster jam against the UofA in Tucson. Unfortunately, plays like those were few and far between.

This season: The word is that Donnell is competing for a starting position in his senior year, but many people who follow the team closely do not agree. In many aspects of life, the best way to predict future performance is to look at the past, and nothing in the past suggests that DK is poised for a breakout season in his senior campaign. In addition to his inconsistency, his playing time may be significantly affected by the arrival of Jamal Hill. Donnell will have to step up his play if he wants to play a significant role during his senior season. Look for him to be more consistent than in the past, but still not living up to his potential.

Kevin Kruger – Fr., PG (6'1", 175 lbs.)

Last season: Played high school ball in Atlanta, where his dad is the coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Amazingly shot in the 50% range from the three-point stripe over his high school career.

This season: Barring significant injuries, Kruger will most likely redshirt this season as a recruited walk-on and receive a scholarship in 2003. His leadership and shooting ability have given the coaching staff reason to consider playing him as a true freshman, but wasting an entire season of eligibility for only a handful of minutes per game seems illogical. Kevin will provide good competition in practice and will continue to get stronger physically so he can contribute significantly in the future.

Curtis Millage – Sr., SG/PG (6'2", 185 lbs.) Last season: Made the transition from junior college to the Pac 10 without too many "bumps in the road." Curtis started all 29 games and logged the most minutes of any player, competing for 30.1 minutes per contest. Curtis displayed his lightning quick first step and an ability to finish around the basket throughout the year, but his outside shot was streaky at times. Millage seemed to prefer road games, posting 27 at Arizona, 24 at Washington State, and 21 at UNLV. He finished the year averaging 13.5 points, 4.1 boards, and 1.6 steals per game while making 74.6% of his free throws.

This season: Curtis put in some hard work in the off-season. His added 10 to 15 lbs. of muscle should help him finish even more effectively around the basket. Additionally, he performed well in the Say No Classic summer league in the LA area. His outside shot is also reportedly more consistent. When putting all of these factors together, it is safe to assume that Millage will be on the floor A LOT! Look for Curtis to get some time at the point guard position in addition to his duties at shooting guard, especially when the person handling the ball needs to be a solid free throw shooter. Everything points to Curtis having a superb senior year. He should pick up some of the scoring and leadership duties left vacant by Chad Prewitt's graduation. Needless to say that his contributions this year are contingent on clearing up his pending academic situation.

Allen Morrill – Fr., PF/SF (6'6", 226 lbs.)

Last season: Played his HS ball in Dallas, TX and was on the same AAU team as Ike Diogu. Morill was named District 8 5A Most Valuable Offensive player by the Dallas Morning News.

This season: A decision is still being made as to whether or not Morrill will play this season. Coach Evans has called Allen a more athletic than ex-Sun Devil Awvee Storey. In practices, onlookers have been impressed with his intelligent play away from the ball, his non-stop motor and knack for getting to rebounds and loose balls. He also is said to have a decent mid-range jump shot, although he does not often display that skill. If allowed to play this season, look for Allen to see some action at both the small forward and power forward spots. It would be a great luxury to be able to redshirt this talented athlete, but his play may force the coaches to let him see some game action should that option be available to them.

Chris Osborne – Sr., C/PF (6'9", 240 lbs.)

Last season: "Oz" battled a wrist injury all last season, only playing in 17 games. When playing, he played with a brace on his hand that some say resembled an oven mitt. Needless to say, the brace and lack of pre-season practice time affected the JC transfer's season. Chris averaged only 6.2 minutes per game and was unable to post significant contributions in points, rebounds, or blocked shots. It was obvious that his injury seriously affected his play.

This season: Oz had a rough off-season, enduring a serious automobile accident and resulting aches and pains that accompany a freeway off-ramp rollover accident. Recently, he has looked better in practice and is starting to show some promise that he will be able to contribute 10 minutes or so off the bench at the center position. Chris' main focus will be to play tough interior defense and to rebound the basketball. Anything Oz provides offensively is just a bonus.

Shawn Redhage – Sr., SF/PF (6'8", 225 lbs.)

Last season: Redhage has been one of the most consistent performers on the Sun Devil roster over the past few seasons. Last year, Shawn averaged 5.2 points and 2.6 rebounds while playing 13.4 minutes per game. He made the most of his offensive opportunities, shooting a commendable 52.7% from the field and 75.0% from the charity stripe. Shawn provided solid contributions off the bench at the small forward and power forward positions.

This season: Look for Shawn to have very similar stats to last season, although his playing time may diminish with the arrival of Jamal Hill. Nonetheless, Redhage should play around 10-15 minutes per game and will provide steady, senior leadership and scoring. At the last Saturday scrimmage before the beginning of the exhibition season, Redhage was the consensus MVP, so it is possible that Shawn could push for additional minutes. It is doubtful that his minutes will significantly increase, however, because he is not quick enough to guard most small forwards and not strong enough to bang with physical power forwards. He will continue to get important minutes, though, specifically when the team needs a calming presence on the offensive end of the floor.

Tommy Smith – Sr., PF/SF (6'10", 215 lbs.)

Last season: Tommy continued his evolution from a skinny high school player with marginal fundamentals into a force in the Pac 10 and started every game. Unfortunately, that evolution is still marred by inconsistencies on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Defensively, Tommy led the team in blocked shots, while also committing 35% more fouls than any other Sun Devil. Offensively, he increased his scoring average to 11.7 ppg, but also committed 44.4% more turnovers than any of his teammates. Tommy was second on the team in rebounds, but 5.3 boards per game seemed low for a long athletic 6'10" player. There were games in which he showed flashes of brilliance, posting double-doubles against USC and Cal over the course of the season. Overall, Smith improved from his sophomore campaign, but was frustratingly inconsistent and foul prone at times.

This season: All reports indicate this will be a big season for Tommy Smith. He was a counselor at a basketball camp for high school seniors and impressed NBA coaches and scouts when scrimmaging against other camp counselors – mostly respected college and NBA players. Tommy looks to have also gotten stronger in the off-season and has taken the steps necessary to have a big senior year. Coach Evans has stated that Tommy has matured dramatically over the past 6 months. The main factor in his senior season will be how he plays defensively. If he continues to get into foul trouble often, then his affect on games will be limited. If he can stay on the floor for extended minutes, look for his numbers and NBA stock to increase significantly.

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