TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Jahii Carson's early exit to the NBA has been expected since he first arrived at Arizona State two years ago.
The dynamic point guard bypassed a chance at the pros last season before deciding to return to school.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Carson will take the leap after his sophomore season.
"I know it will be his last; We know Jahii will end up going to the NBA," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said during the Sun Devils' media day Thursday. "I've known that for a long time."
Carson was one of the most heralded in-state recruits in Arizona State history coming out of nearby Mesa High School and the hype only intensified when he sat out the 2011-12 season due to academic issues.
The 5-foot-10 guard lived up to the expectations — maybe even exceeded them — with a seamless adjustment to the college game.
Confident and quick, Carson led Arizona State in scoring at 18.5 points per game as a redshirt freshman last season, second-best in Arizona State history by a freshman to Ike Diogu's 19.0 in 2002-03 and seventh by a freshman in Pac-12 history. Carson also led the Sun Devils with 5.1 assists and his 177 total were most by a freshman in Sun Devils history, sixth on the conference list.
Carson set other school freshman records, including points (647), field goals made (231) and attempted (488), minutes (1,303) and 20-point games (18).
He also scored a freshman-record 34 points against Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament and was the conference's co-freshman of the year with UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad.
Led by Carson, Arizona State won 22 games and set a school record with 16 home victories, but was left out of the NCAA tournament and had to play in the NIT after finishing tied for sixth in the Pac-12.
Carson filed paperwork to be evaluated by NBA executives during the offseason before announcing his return to Arizona State at a news conference that included a DJ, a slide show and was attended by season-ticket holders and ASU students.
He returned, in part, to help Arizona State get to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
"After we had a 20-win season, that's kind of a good accomplishment, but I want more," Carson said. "I want to win more than 20 games, win the Pac-12 championship, the Pac-12 (regular season), get Pac-12 player of the year, All-American and get us a deep run in the tournament. I think that will be a nice way to end my last year."
Carson spent his summer working on his game at numerous camps run by current NBA players, including LeBron James, Deron Williams and Kyrie Irving. Though he missed the start of practice with a stress reaction in his right thigh, Carson is expected to return on Monday.
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