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Josh Christopher gives Arizona State a go-to freshman scorer

This is what the Sun Devils are getting in five-star shooting guard Josh Christopher.

Josh Christopher has always had basketball in his blood. The youngest of four children in a family full of hoopers, Christopher grew up watching his sister Paris get a scholarship to St. Mary’s, his brother Patrick have an excellent four-year stint at Cal before embarking on a pro career, and his other brother Caleb sign with Arizona State last year.

On Monday night, Christopher finally announced his own college decision. The No. 10 overall prospect in the high school class of 2020 will attend Arizona State in the fall. He picked the Sun Devils over Michigan, UCLA, Missouri, and USC.

Christopher projects as an instant-impact scorer as a freshman. The 6’4 shooting guard has been ranked near the top of his class from the moment it started being evaluated. Christopher is well-positioned to be able to handle the physicality of high-major basketball from the jump. He already has a more developed body than many of his peers, and an understanding of how to get to the spots on the floor where he’s comfortable scoring. Christopher might not have the long-term upside of some other five-star prospects in his graduating class, but there’s a case to be made that he is among the most college-ready rising freshmen in the country.

Christopher counts as a good-but-not-quite-elite athlete who has great length for his position with a reported 6’8 wingspan. He put up monster numbers this past season at Maywood High in Lakewood, California, averaging 29.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 3.5 steals per game as a senior. Christopher was also an automatic scorer on grassroots level playing on Nike’s EYBL circuit (21.3 points per game), but his statistical profile did show where he has room to grow: he shot 42.3 percent from the field, and 31.6 percent from three-point range across nine games.

Christopher is projected to go No. 27 overall in ESPN’s 2021 NBA mock draft, making him a likely one-and-done in college. He’ll have a chance to rise up draft boards if he can use his length to make an impact defensively and show improvement in his shooting numbers. For now, think of him as a microwave scorer whose length should overwhelm opponents at the college level. How efficient that scoring will be remains up for debate.

Josh Christopher highlights

How Josh Christopher fits Arizona State

While USC has seemingly made a late play to become a serious contender — thank former Trojan Nick Young for that — this still feels like a battle between Michigan and Arizona State.

At Michigan, Christopher would have joined arguably the best on-paper recruiting class the program has had since the Fab Five — though John Beilein’s class of 2012 is impossibly loaded in hindsight. Juwan Howard can take solace in the fact that he already has four other top-100 recruits committed for next year, headlined by five-star big man Isaiah Todd.

At Arizona State, Christopher joins a backcourt that includes dynamic scoring guard Alonzo Verge and possibly Remy Martin, who is testing the waters of the NBA draft. Verge already proved to be a monster scorer in his first year after transferring from the JUCO level, hanging 43 points on St.Mary’s in December. Bobby Hurley would have a ton of offensive firepower with all three around. The Sun Devils have another coveted prospect entering the program in Marcus Bagley, who is ranked No. 35 overall in his class by 247 Sports and is the younger brother of Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III.

Arizona State lost seniors Rob Edwards and Mickey Mitchell to graduation, and saw Romello White test the NBA Draft process in addition to Martin. The program has also lost two sparingly used players to transfer in Khalid Thomas and Elias Valtonen. The Sun Devils would have been an NCAA tournament team this past season at 20-11 overall, and could take a big jump up the standings next year with Christopher on-board and with the possible returns of White and Martin.