TEMPE, Ariz. – Jahii Carson leaves a defender stumbling and staggering with a crossover. Then another. And another.
Seconds later, he whips a bounce pass through traffic to hit a teammate in perfect stride, does it again from a different angle to a different teammate. He drops in 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers, reverse layups.
And the dunks: a head-above-the-rim, double-pump reverse, an almost indescribable around-his-back tomahawk after catching a bouncing lob pass off the floor.
Nearly half a million hoops fans have watched the highlight reel of the 5-foot-10 point guard with the bouncy legs and blurring quickness on YouTube.
His Arizona State teammates have seen similar eye-bugging displays on the practice court.
Now, after a year on the shelf, the Jahii Carson show is going live. If it’s even half as good as the hype, it’ll be a sure hit.
“I’m ready,” Carson said on Tuesday. “I wish the game was tomorrow.”
Arizona State fans wished it was last year.
One of the most highly touted basketball recruits in school history — certainly under coach Herb Sendek – Carson was viewed as a program savior, a point guard with ridiculous skills and a swagger to match who would lift Arizona State out of mediocrity.
His resurrection project got put on hold for a year, though, when he didn’t meet the NCAA’s academic eligibility standards.
All that did was add to the hype.
With Arizona State struggling and Carson’s highlight reel racking up the hits, the hyperbole reached a manic pitch, Sun Devils fans wondering WWJD – What Would Jahii Do? – as the season wore on and the losses piled up.
Carson’s Twitter followers ballooned over 6,000 and his reputation swelled to superhero proportions even though few people outside Arizona State had seen him play since he averaged 32.2 points and 6.6 assists during his senior season at nearby Mesa High School.
The long wait over, Sun Devils fans, coaches and players are anxious to see what he can do when the lights come back on.
“He’s got a lot of confidence, he can score in many different ways, so it’ll be exciting to watch him play,” said Evan Gordon, who will team with Carson in what’s expected to be one of the country’s best backcourts after sitting out as a transfer from Liberty last season.