Arizona State Basketball: Outlook after Romello White draft decision

Arizona State Basketball may have the added challenge of replacing star forward Romello White ahead of the 2020-21 season.

With the high level of uncertainty haunting the basketball ranks, many players are deciding to test the NBA Draft waters to determine the next steps of their futures. Add Arizona State Basketball forward Romello White to those ranks.

On Wednesday evening – April Fools’ Day, of all days – White took to social media to announce that he would be submitting his name to the NBA Draft committee to receive feedback about his stock. This doesn’t inhibit White from returning to school, but if he gets a positive response, he could be a goner.

That being said, there’s still a solid chance he decides to return to Tempe for his senior season. Most trustworthy mock drafts don’t see White being drafted and there’s not much motivation for players to stick out the process if they aren’t going to hear their name called by Adam Silver or Mark Tatum.

The deadline date to withdraw from the NBA Draft process isn’t clear, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last season, that deadline came at the end of May, giving White approximately two months to weigh his options.

Should White decide to pursue professional basketball, he will be difficult for Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils to replace. The forward isn’t a huge scorer, averaging just 10.2 points per game last season. But his presence on the inside is undeniable, as his 8.8 rebounds per game ranked second in the Pac-12.

As a senior, White would be a serious candidate to average a double-double and make one of the All-Pac-12 teams. Perhaps he was worried about the writing on the wall at Arizona State, as leading scorer Remy Martin also threw his name into draft consideration this week. Additionally, Khalid Thomas and Andre Allen both recently entered the transfer portal.

Suddenly, a team that likely would’ve made their third straight NCAA Tournament this year is looking at a much more bare cupboard. Outside of Alonzo Verge Jr., there may be no returnees who averaged at least five points per game, with guard Rob Edwards set to graduate.

The best way to replace White would’ve been to get an enrollment from top prospect Cliff Omoruyi, but the forward spurned Arizona State in favor of Rutgers. Four-star prospect Marcus Bagley is tall for a small forward at 6-foot-7, but as a freshman, it would be a big ask for him to play minutes at center like White did.

Instead, the burden is likely to fall on one of last year’s reserves. The most likely candidate to take up a chunk of those big man minutes is rising junior Taeshon Cherry; the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game off the bench in 2019-20. Rising sophomore Jalen Graham also saw time at center last season and should be a bigger part of next year’s rotation.

Much of next season’s squad remains up in the air for Hurley and it could remain that way for a few months. There’s no doubt Arizona State would be much better suited to make another trip to the NCAA Tournament next year if Romello White decides to return.