TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State plans to retire former Sun Devil great Eddie House’s No. 5 jersey this season.
ASU coach Herb Sendek announced Tuesday to a small group of gathered media that House’s jersey would be raised to the rafters on a date to be determined once ASU receives its conference schedule. House’s jersey will join those of Lafayette “Fat” Lever, Joe Caldwell, Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins.
House was on hand for the announcement as Sendek donned a maroon No. 5 ASU jersey.
“It’s a great honor,” House said. “Right now it’s not really hitting me, but when you go to games and you see your jersey in the rafters, that’s a feeling — and the day it happens — that’s special. It just shows the appreciation that everybody has for what you’ve done, the accomplishments and all the hard work you put in.
“To be recognized for it, that does feel good.”
House, the program’s all time scoring leader, played at ASU from 1996 to 2000 before going on to a 11-year professional career that included a NBA title with the Celtics in 2008 and stints with the Heat, Clippers, Bucks, Bobcats, Kings, Suns, Nets and Knicks.
It was at ASU, House said, that he became a man and learned how to truly play the game. Under coach Rob Evans in 2000, House became the first Sun Devil to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year. House’s most memorable moment at ASU came on Jan. 8, 2000, when he scored 61 points in a double-overtime win against Cal, tying a conference record.
“I came a long way from the first time I came here from the Bay Area,” House said. “A lot of growing pains to become the man that I’ve become. … I’m glad that people stuck with me and that I stuck with this university.”
Sendek spoke highly of House on Tuesday despite having never coached him. Sendek did coach against House on two occasions while leading the North Carolina State basketball team.
“I’ve coached against him, and it was a nightmare,” Sendek said. “The two best guys I’ve ever coached against, running away from the basket, getting their feet squared and getting their shot off with no time in space were J.J. Reddick and Eddie House.”
House, 35, retired from the NBA after the 2010-11 season and now spends time coaching his 12-year-old son’s basketball team.
ASU is preparing for a 10-day tour of China that is to include three games in the country, one against a university team and two against Chinese Basketball Association teams.
The current, preparations, though, are not quite what you’d expect.
While ASU will begin practicing next week for the trip, the team is currently preparing for the cultural changes and safety measures. Players and coaches are taking a pill every other day for typhoid, Sendek said, and learning about further precautions and preparation.
“My Chinese is not very good, and I don’t know how to use chopsticks,” Sendek joked.
Jokes aside, ASU has had a great deal of detailed preparation to do. New director of basketball operations Jason Ludwig, who comes from UCLA, has been invaluable to that process.
“As good fortune would have it, UCLA made this trip (to China) last year,” Sendek said. “So Jason really has a handle on what to do and what not to do.”
Added Ludwig: “The biggest thing that we got out of it was we really, really came together as a team, especially with so many newcomers. You can’t use your cell phones there, you can’t email, you can’t Facebook, you can’t tweet, so you’re forced to interact with each other.”
Team bonding represents one of Sendek’s main goals on the trip, which begins when the team leaves Phoenix late on the night of Aug. 8. Sendek wants the team to be goodwill ambassadors for ASU and seize the opportunity to experience China and its culture.
“Way down on the list somewhere is the basketball component,” Sendek said. “Basketball has its place, but I would put those three other goals well in advance of basketball.”
Another reason the basketball component isn’t being stressed too heavily: ASU won’t have its full roster on the trip. Transfers Richie Edwards and Brandon Kearney won’t be allowed to go as they complete a mandatory post-transfer season off. Recent addition Jermaine Marshall, who transferred from Penn State, and incoming freshmen are also restricted from the trip.
Sendek said ASU will travel with about 10 scholarship players.
Pendergraph on the move
Not long after House left Tuesday’s media gathering, another ASU great stopped by. Former Sun Devil big man Jeff Pendergraph poked his head in the door following a workout at ASU’s Weatherup Center.
Sendek invited Pendergraph, clad in new San Antonio Spurs gear, to have a seat and discuss his recent signing of a two-year deal with the Spurs.
“It’s great feeling to have somebody that wants you,” Pendergraph said. “Free agency is always so uncertain and nerve-wracking every time it comes around. To have a franchise like the Spurs reach out to me and tell me they want me to join their team and be part of the history that is the Spurs was a great feeling.”
Pendergraph, who played at ASU from 2005-09, played the past two seasons in a reserve role for the Indiana Pacers after playing his rookie season in Portland and missing the 2010-11 season with a knee injury. He said Tuesday he considered re-signing with the Pacers but did not receive an offer he thought was fair. He still probably took less than market value with the Spurs, but there was plenty of upside.
“I probably could have got more money elsewhere,” Pendergraph said. “But to get what I’m getting in San Antonio plus playing under coach (Gregg Popovich) and learning from Tim Duncan, playing with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli — there’s probably three hall of famers right there, four with the coach — it’s definitely a welcome trade-off.”
Pendergraph still lives in the Valley and eight weeks ago welcomed his first child, a daughter.
— As Sendek spoke Tuesday morning, senior center Jordan Bachynski was playing for a bronze medal with Team Canada at the World University Games in Russia. Bachynski trained with Team Canada in Portland this summer before traveling to China and Russia to compete. He is set to return to Arizona this week.
“Jordan has had an amazing summer,” Sendek said. “I think he’s on a great trajectory. In a lot of ways he had his coming out last season. … I think right now he’s in a really good place.”
— Sendek said ASU’s free-throw shooting, worst in the Pac-12 at 64.9 percent last season, has to improve next season.
“Our free throw shooting was horrific last year, and maybe more than any other single factor resulted in us losing basketball games,” Sendek said. “It’s never that simple, but on the other hand it’s never that complicated. Had we been able to make a higher number of free throws, a good season could have been even better.”