TEMPE, Ariz. Top Arizona State recruit Jahii Carson was ruled academically ineligible Friday, which means the player for whom the Sun Devils redesigned their offense this season will be able to run it only in practice.
Carson, ranked the No. 8 point guard recruit in the nation while at Mesa High last season, is ineligible after falling just short of the academic threshold as determined by the NCAAs sliding scale. The scale balances grade-point average and standardized test results after his latest SAT was graded.
Carson can practice with the team and participate in all team functions, and he could regain a fourth year of eligibility if he maintains good academic standing while making progress toward his degree in communications.
Its a little bit deflating, but I look at things on the brighter side," Carson said. "Its being able to practice with my coaching staff and being able to be with my team.
"I definitely feel like the monkeys off my back. Its not what I wanted, but its something I can live with. Outside, watching like a normal fan, was something I couldnt really take.Carson, 5-foot-11, averaged 23.3 points and 5.5 assists at Mesa last season, and his impact was expected to be immediate. After he signed, the Sun Devils made plans to emphasize the running game that's Carson's strength and also installed half-court sets designed to use high-post screens as a way to create mismatches.
Without Carson, ASU (3-5) has not been particularly fluid offensively and is averaging 18.4 turnovers a game entering a meeting against top Summit League contender North Dakota State (7-1) on Saturday.
Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said he's planning no immediate changes now that Carsons fate has been determined. Keala King started at point guard in place of Chris Colvin in a 69-61 loss to Nevada on Wednesday, when ASU opened with a lineup that included two big men instead of one.
Back at one point, a good while ago before we started the season, we had some plans in place that most certainly included some things that (Carson) did best, Sendek said. But weve moved forward in a way that our adjustments here over the course of this season were in the best interests of the guys who were able to play. You have to coach and prepare with who is able to play. Were all in it together. Jahii can help us in practice.
Sendek, in fact, seemed to take it better that might have been expected.
I think its really a thunderbolt of good news for us today, he said.
Carsons eligibility issues first came to light when the NCAA red-flagged a summer-school course, leading to another SAT sitting. Carson said Friday he never considered using the academic issue as a reason to change schools.
I gave my pledge to coach Sendek and the ASU basketball staff, and I was going to stick with that," Carson said. "Coach Sendek recruited me tougher than any coach in the country when I was a senior in high school.
(A junior college) never crossed my mind, or leaving Arizona State. I was a part of Arizona State when I signed last year, and I still am. This makes me more hungry. It makes me want to come out and just dominate. Ive always had a little chip on my shoulder.
Carson said the NCAA clearinghouse did nothing to illuminate the process, something that made the waiting more difficult.I was always in the dark about the situation," he said. "They wanted to kind of put me in a safehouse with that. They didnt really want me to think about it. They never gave me a timeline. There were other kids in the country who were also in my situation, so they couldnt single me out.Follow Jack Magruder on Twitter