‘Something to prove’: ASU men’s basketball rebuilds for Big 12 transition with high-profile recruits, transfers

(Video by Katrina Villarreal/Cronkite News)

TEMPE – After a disappointing 2023-24 campaign, ASU men’s basketball is looking to the future. The Sun Devils have utilized the transfer portal ahead of the 2024-25 season and acquired a trio of four- and five-star commits that could make the Sun Devils a formidable force in their Big 12 Conference debut.

The buzz around the Tempe campus centers on five-star commit Jayden Quaintance. The 6-foot-9 center, who played at Word of God Christian Academy (Raleigh, North Carolina), was a top prospect for schools like the University of Kentucky and Florida. However, the top center in the 2024 class chose the desert as his new home with coach Bobby Hurley taking the reins of his highly skilled rim control.

“Jayden Quaintance is special,” Hurley said. “And I could keep it real simple. What he’s going to be over the next couple of years is scary because of his approach and his makeup and his physical tools and all the things he does on the court.”

Another star that should be on everyone’s watchlist is Amier Ali. The 6-foot-8 forward was the fourth-ranked player in Arizona and 20th-best small forward in the nation.

“Amier Ali has been very impressive. He was technically the lowest ranked of the three, but he is outstanding,” Hurley said. “I mean he is 6’8 and can really shoot it. In most of our shooting drills so far, his shot-making has been tremendous.”

Incoming freshman Joson Sanon has yet to join the team for summer practices as he finishes his commitment to his AAU team, the Boston Amateur Basketball Club. His commitment to the Sun Devils almost didn’t happen. The journey to his commitment to ASU has been extreme to say the least. To start, he wasn’t even supposed to be eligible for the class of 2024.

Joson, a junior at Vermont Academy (Saxton River, Vermont) last season, announced in the spring his commitment to ASU’s in-state rival, the University of Arizona. The news came with the confirmation that he would attempt to skip his senior year and graduate in the summer, allowing him to play for the Wildcats this summer.

On May 29, Sanon flipped his commitment to ASU and successfully fulfilled his academic requirements to be eligible for the upcoming season. He completes the trio of incoming freshmen, joining a roster of young players who look to take the Big 12 by storm.

Hurley and his staff worked tirelessly to bring in talent that not only shows passion for ASU but also changes the reputation of the program.

Five-star recruit Jayden Quaintance headlines ASU's impressive 2024 recruiting class as the Sun Devils prepare for their Big 12 debut. (Photo by Dylan Slager/Cronkite News)

Five-star recruit Jayden Quaintance headlines ASU’s impressive 2024 recruiting class as the Sun Devils prepare for their Big 12 debut. (Photo by Dylan Slager/Cronkite News)

“We’ve recruited good guys. I think everyone in the gym gets along well together. They all are very focused guys. Some of our premier portal guys only have one year left and they have to make this year work,” Hurley said. “They aren’t looking at what they did financially in the portal. They are looking at their future as pros, potentially.

“We also have high school guys that are on NBA Draft radar and they are coming here with something to prove.”

The Sun Devils’ summer workouts have allowed returning players like Adam Miller to get plenty of reps with the incoming transfers and freshman commits. Miller, who also transferred from LSU in 2023, looks to prove himself in the Big 12 season after ASU finished 14-18 in its final Pac-12 season.

“I have the same goals in my mind. To be the best I can be to help this team win. I want to be that extra coach out there for Coach Hurley,” Miller said. “I think I lost a bit of confidence along my journey, but I feel like I can finally sit down with myself and gain that confidence back so I can show everybody a different side of me this year.”

ASU has had one of the busiest offseasons in a long time. With the move to the Big 12 being the primary thought on the general public’s mind, those associated with the program have seen major changes– the biggest being the promotion of Graham Rossini from Sun Devil Athletics business officer to athletic director.

This leadership change has allowed Hurley and Rossini to form a closer bond that could help bring Sun Devil basketball back to its peak.

“The school has made great efforts to prioritize basketball,”Hurley said. “It’s still early on, but it’s exciting. I am as hopeful as I have been in a long time.”

There is still much more to come for ASU basketball. However, with the progress made so far with the transfers, incoming freshman and commitment to the program from the front office, there is no telling how high Hurley and the team will soar this upcoming season.

“This team, in my estimation, must stack up with the best teams that I’ve had from a personnel standpoint,” Hurley said. “We’ve done our job to build a team. We’ve got a lot of components. We’ve got a really good basketball team. It’s just a matter of getting everyone here. Once we have everyone together, I think it’s going to be something that’s pretty great.”

Dylan Slager(he/him)
Sports Digital Reporter, Phoenix

Dylan Slager expects to graduate in December 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. He is seeking his first internship in the fall.

Katrina Villarreal(she/her/hers)
Sports Broadcast Reporter, Phoenix

Katrina Villarreal expects to graduate in August 2024 with a master’s degree in sports journalism. Villarreal completed her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism with a minor in theater at the University of Texas at El Paso. While at UTEP, Villarreal worked at the student-run publication, The Prospector, as the multimedia editor and sports reporter.