A day after declaring he would remain in the NBA draft and close out his All-America career at Arizona State, Ike Diogu sat in coach Rob Evans' office still torn by his decision.
Evans had none of it.
"I said, ‘Hey, listen. The decision's made. We're moving forward,’ ” Evans said. "What we do now is focus on the kids we have here and the kids we have coming in. And we've got some good kids coming in."
Over the next few months, Evans will welcome to Tempe a recruiting class that includes five scholarship players and one walk-on transfer in the hope it can help his team get somewhere Diogu failed to carry it the last two years — the NCAA tournament. Junior college transfers Bruno Claudino and Antwi Atuahene will step on campus with the most pressure to perform immediately.
Claudino, a 6-foot-8 junior forward out of Brazil who played the last two years at the College of Southern Idaho, will try to fill Diogu's shoes in the post.
Atuahene, a 6-3 sophomore point guard from Ontario Trinity Valley Community College, should help fill in for Jason Braxton.
Guard Seketoure Henry, forward Jeff Pendergraph and forward Sylvester Seay, all first-year college players, and UC Davis transfer forward Chad Goldstein should all compete for playing time off a bench that was shortened considerably by the transfers of Tim Pierce, Keith Wooden and Wilfried Fameni.
Goldstein, a graduate of Desert Mountain High School, will not be available until the semester break. Evans is especially high on Seay, whom he considers to have NBA potential. The Sun Devils' departed players combined to average 49 points per game last year, so juniors Kevin Kruger and Serge Angounou will have to pick up their scoring. That should result in a more perimeter-oriented offense than that which ASU has played the last three seasons.
"We'll have a little different style of play because we won't have that low-post threat," Evans said. "I really feel offensively that those guys can give us a lift. Our biggest thing is we've got to be able to defend people and we have to rebound the basketball."
Regardless of the team's style of play, there will be a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the program unless Evans' contract dispute is resolved. He has two years remaining on his current deal and has been offered a two-year extension without a financial guarantee should he be fired. Evans again referred questions pertaining to his contract status to his attorney Dennis Coleman.
"I don't talk about contract extensions. That's something for the administration and my attorney," Evans said. "I'm here to coach basketball and that's what I'm going to do."
BONUS SHOT: Christian Polk of Glendale Deer Valley High School verbally committed to ASU over the weekend, according to a source close to the program. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound point guard averaged 14.3 points and 4.0 assists per game in helping to lead the Skyhawks to the 5A state championship game.
Polk is considered one of the top three senior prospects in Arizona along with Marcos de Niza’s Kal Bay and Scottsdale Christian’s Kevin Coble.