Herb Sendek dismissed after 9 years as Arizona State coach

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State has fired basketball coach Herb Sendek after nine seasons. 

Sendek had a 159-137 record at ASU and took the Sun Devils to two NCAA tournament appearances — in 2009 and 2014. The Sun Devils finished the current season with an 18-16 record following a loss to Richmond in the second round of the NIT.

"My opinion of Herb the man won’t ever change, but I came to the conclusion over the course of the season, taking into consideration everything, that we weren’t going to get better enough in the time frame we expect to be playing at a competitive level," athletic director Ray Anderson was quoted as saying by the AP during an afternoon press conference.

Scout.com director of recruiting Evan Daniels, citing a "high-placed source," said Anderson is targeting and has made contact with Duke assistant coach Jeff Capel. Capel has previous head coaching experience at Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth, compiling a 175-110 record.

"It will be thoughtful, it will be deliberate," Anderson said of the coaching search. "We don’t have a short list, but we will be putting together a list in short order because we want to make sure we get ourselves reset for recruiting and are retaining (players)."

Anderson, who has seen the football program shoot to Pac-12 prominence under the direction of Todd Graham, has similar expectations of the basketball program.

"This has not been an easy decision for me," Anderson said in a prepared statement Tuesday morning. "Herb has been a tremendous asset to this university and a pillar of our community, and his tenure over the past nine years has helped shift the direction of this program. …

"Our athletics department, university and community expect our men’s basketball program to compete consistently for Pac-12 titles, make regular trips to the NCAA tournament, keep the best in-state talent, and energize our fans and donors. "Unfortunately, we have fallen short of these expectations."

Sendek was owed $2.8 million over the next two seasons per terms of a contract extension negotiated after the Sun Devils reached the NCAA tournament last season, but Anderson said the athletic department budget will not be affected.

"A budget-neutral solution has been developed with assistance of donor contribution," Anderson said.

Although Sendek landed highly touted point guard Jahii Carson from Mesa three years ago and changed his offense to a more running style, the Sun Devils have not lured many of the top-level Arizona high school players in recent seasons.

Last week, ASU lost a commitment from Perry High School sophomore guard Markus Howard, who was the state’s leading scorer at 32.4 points a game this season. Howard and two Corona Del Sol players, freshman center Marvin Bagley III and sophomore guard Alex Barcello, are national-level recruits. Bagley, 6-foot-11, is considered one of the top players in the country despite his tender age. He is the grandson of former ASU and NBA player Joe Caldwell. Barcello has been offered scholarships by Arizona and Virginia but is not believed to have committed.

Los Angeles Fairfax High guard Lindsey Drew told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that he has decommitted from ASU after Sendek’s removal. Drew is the son of former NBA guard Larry Drew and the brother of former UCLA guard Larry Drew II.

Sendek led ASU to 20 or more wins in five of his nine seasons, topped by a 25-10 record in his third season (2008-09), led by sophomore James Harden, who was Pac-12 Player of the Year and a consensus All-American. But following Harden’s departure for the NBA, it would be five more years before ASU returned to the tournament.

ASU earned the fifth seed in this season’s Pac-12 tournament — recovering from an 0-4 start in conference play — but bowed out of the tournament with a 67-64 loss to last-place USC, blowing a 14-point lead over the final nine minutes. In a radio interview last week with Arizona Sports 98.7, Anderson acknowledged hearing from "a lot of folks who are very disgruntled with where the program is" following the loss to USC.

This was expected to be a rebuilding year following the departure of Carson, Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall, but the Sun Devils exceeded preseason predictions and are scheduled to return four starters next year.

Sendek came to ASU after 10 seasons at North Carolina State, where he compiled a 191-132 record and led the Wolfpack to five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. He began his head coaching career at Miami (Ohio), where his record was 63-26.