Romello White and De’Quon Lake exited the Arizona State huddle and walked onto the court after a timeout Friday night. White stuck out his hand to his teammate. Lake slapped him five.

Three games in, no one knows much about how this college basketball season will unfold. Well, Bill Walton, maybe. But here in Tempe, White and Lake already have made a lot of fans consider the possibilities. This is a change from the recent past when shortcomings were obvious and ceilings lowered.

The Pac-12 at this point appears top heavy. You have Top 10 teams in Arizona and USC. Then you have a bunch of teams fighting for position and respect. Put any qualifier on it you want, but the Sun Devils this first month have looked as good as any among this second group.

White and Lake are significant reasons, and they continued to show as much in Friday’s 97-62 win over overwhelmed Northern Arizona at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils improved to 3-0. They have scored 90 points in three consecutive games for the first time since 1993.

Next week more answers will come in the Continental Tire Invitational in Las Vegas, where ASU will open against Kansas State and could meet No. 15 Xavier. But for now, coach Bobby Hurley has something he didn’t have last season – offensive balance and, more importantly, early season promise.

A week ago, the 6-8 White was somewhat of a mystery. He sat out last season as an academic-redshirt. He missed two exhibition contests and the season opener because of rules violations. Then, in his first game, he grabbed 15 rebounds against San Diego State, a number no one reached against the Aztecs last season.

Against NAU, White showed off his offensive skill. He scored off a right-hand hook moving across the lane. He scored off a spin move near the baseline. He scored off a one-handed put-back while drawing a foul. White finished with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting. He also had six rebounds and two blocked shots.

The 6-10 Lake isn’t as polished, but he has two things going for him: A 7-foot-2 wingspan and a mindset that makes him want to dunk every time he touches the ball. The junior-college transfer dunked five times Friday, two coming off put-backs in transition. Over three games, 12 of Lake’s 22 field goals have been dunks. He’s shooting 22 of 25 from the field. He had 17 points and 12 rebounds against NAU.

During these pre-turkey days, it makes for a nice starting point.


  • I asked Tra Holder this week if he was going to get a triple-double this season. The senior guard laughed. “I hope,” he said. “I don’t know. Whatever happens, happens.” The 6-1 Holder was close in the opener against Idaho State, posting 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Against NAU, he had 12, nine and six. 
  • One thing Hurley expected entering the season: With solid post options, Holder and senior guard Shannon Evans would get to show off their playmaking. Evans showed as much against NAU, dishing eight assists. He also had 20 points and just one turnover in 33 minutes.
  • Kodi Justice this season got off to a cold shooting start, making 2 of 9 from 3-point range. The senior guard warmed up against NAU, hitting 4 of 8 and finishing with 14 points. Overall, the Sun Devils shot 52.4 percent from the field. They assisted on 24 of 33 field goals.   
  • With ASU leading 93-57 with 1:56 left, Hurley picked up his first technical foul of the season.
  • NAU is struggling. The Lumberjacks – picked to finish 11th in the Big Sky preseason coaches poll – have opened with losses to Arizona, Embry-Riddle and ASU. Karl Harris led them with 15 points against the Sun Devils.

Contact Doug Haller at 602-444-4949 or at [email protected] Follow him at Download and subscribe to the Two-Man Weave College Basketball Podcast, available on iTunes.