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Jahii Carson Ruled Academically Ineligible For 2011-12 Season

Jahii Carson, ASU's heralded incoming point guard, has been ruled ineligible for the the 2011-12 basketball season. He practiced with the team for the first time Friday.

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Arizona State Guard Jahii Carson Will Make The Most Of Year Of Ineligibility

TEMPE -- Jahii Carson will spend the rest of this academic year getting going on classes for his chosen major at Arizona State, communications. The freshman guard will also practice with his Sun Devils teammates, perhaps sit on the bench with them in games and attend meetings and study tables with the boys.

He just can't play in games. And that's the hardest part for a player considered one of the top incoming freshmen in the Pac-12.

Carson, ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA Friday, reacted to the verdict handed down by the college sports governing body. He will lose his freshman season and join the Devils as a sophomore next winter, but can earn back the lost year of eligibility if he shows enough progress toward graduating, by NCAA standards.

Carson tried to look on the bright side while admitting the decision was "a little bit deflating." He stepped on the Wells Fargo Arena Court for his first practice Friday afternoon.

"Being able to practice, being around my team, being around my coaching stuff, being around people who have been around me since August supporting and caring for me is just outstanding for me," Carson said. 

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Carson even expressed a little relief at finally knowing where he stands with the NCAA and the ASU program.

"I feel like the monkey's off my back. It's not what I wanted, but it's something I can live with," he said.

The Sun Devils had hoped for a spark from Carson if he was to be declared eligible. They have glaring issues at the point guard position at present and are off to a 3-5 start with three losses at home in the non-conference season.

"We have to go with who we have," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "He's a talented point guard. He's a tremendous athlete. He can score but he also has the ability to make other guys better. He most certainly signed with us with a great deal of promise."

Sendek said the team will continue to be supportive of Carson, and that he'll make practices more competitive.

"It's really a thunderbolt of good news for us," Sendek said.

For Carson, he's glad to at least be able to practice. The NCAA kept him pretty much in the dark about the decision process, he said.

Carson, from Mesa, never considered leaving Tempe to go play at a junior college.

"I gave my pledge to Coach Sendek and the ASU basketball staff and I was going to stick with that," he said. "I felt like Arizona State was the place for me and juco never came across my mind or leaving Arizona State."

Carson will use the year to learn the system, stay in shape and be ready for next season. He also wants to build leadership among his teammates and said he'll be motivated academically.

"This makes me more hungry," he said. "It makes me want to come out and just dominate. I've always had a little chip on my shoulder so this is an even bigger chip for me."

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Heralded Freshman Jahii Carson Ready To Carry ASU Back Into Spotlight

As the USA Under-19 team runs roughshod over the competition at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Latvia, one particular story is of interest to Sun Devils fans. Despite receiving limited playing time during the tournament, 18-year old Jahii Carson is flaunting a skillset that made him one of the coveted point guards of the 2011 incoming class, and ASU's most heralded recruit since James Harden.

As the only member of the U19 to make the team without college experience, the tournament has served as a learning experience for Carson. Yet, through five FIBA games, and just 42 minutes, the explosive 5'11" guard has already amassed 16 assists.

When extrapolated out, that number translates to 13.7 assists per 36 minutes, an extremely good average for a player of so young an age. Court vision is one of the most important traits in a point guard, but it is also one of the last to mature. In that respect, Carson already seems to be well ahead of his peers.

"He's a talented point guard that carries a certain amount of expectations," Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek said to ESPN.com. "Although we expect really good things, we take it one day at a time. He'll have a role to play and be a part of our team."

Despite the coach's even-handedness, make no mistake about it, the goal is for Carson to transform next year's version of the Arizona State basketball program into a entirely different beast from the one that ranked at the bottom of the Pac-10 in ‘10-‘11. With Sendek's lauded incoming freshman class -- which also includes fellow blue-chipper Hersey Hawkins -- in addition to burgeoning star Trent Lockett, the Sun Devils will finally have the tools to flip their traditionally slow and measured offense onto its head.

"He basically said teams think that we're a slowdown program, and there's times when he hadn't really had a point guard that felt comfortable pushing the tempo," Carson excitedly explained. "He wants to put the ball in my hands, and he just wants to push the basketball so we can change to an up-tempo type of game."

Last year the Sun Devils averaged an abysmal 64 points a game, good for last in the Pac-10 and 292nd in the nation. But it only takes a single player to turn around the fortunes of a college basketball program, a fact that Sendek is very aware of after watching the fervor that coated the university during James Harden's tenure from 2007-2009.

"He is a very self-confident, charismatic young man who possesses some real leadership abilities," Sendek said. "We look forward to taking advantage of his strengths."

The hope is that those strengths can translate to Sendek's second NCAA tournament appearance since being brought on in 2006. Even still, as a lifelong Arizona native, Carson has bigger plans.

"People from out of state say U of A," says Carson, well aware of the stigma despised by the Sun Devil faithful. "They don't really say Arizona State."

"I just want to change that." He pauses, measuring the weight of the words in his head before forcefully declaring, "I think we can definitely change that."

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