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The 5 athletes who are the future of Sun Devil athletics

Anthony Totri Avatar
June 30, 2022

The transfer portal has gutted Arizona State sports programs across the Tempe campus. Some of the brightest and best Sun Devils made the decision to play elsewhere in 2022. With that being said, which athletes are the face of Sun Devil athletics moving forward?

ASU fans may see stars on the football field, while others cling to hope on the hardwood. Yet, there’s still some ridiculously talented athletes that sport the maroon and gold in various Sun Devil athletic sports. 

Who are they?

Léon Marchand, men’s swimming and diving

Mar 26, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils swimmer Leon Marchand celebrates after winning the 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Mens Swimming & Diving Championships at McAuley Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

There may not be a more talented athlete at ASU than freshman individual-medley swimmer Léon Marchand. Despite not being a household name across the country, he’s one of the best swimmers at the collegiate level.

Marchand holds the fastest 200 IM time in NCAA history (1:37.69), not to mention he just won three medals at the FIBA World Championships. With several years of eligibility left, Marchand has the potential to carve a legacy out for Sun Devil nation.

The swim and dive program as a whole has been consistently competitive, performing in NCAA championships rather regularly. If Arizona State manages to snag an NCAA title at some point, odds are Marchand will be the reason. 

If you’re a Sun Devil sports fan and you’re unfamiliar with Marchand, he’s most certainly the future of Sun Devil athletics. Given the fact that the swim and dive program is intact (unlike many of the other sports in Tempe), it’s worth knowing who Marchand is. 

Daniyel Ngata, football

Oct 8, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils running back Daniyel Ngata (4) runs with the ball against the Stanford Cardinal during the second half at Sun Devil Stadium in a Pac-12 Friday night showdown. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

There isn’t a player on this list who’s seen more turnover on the roster than redshirt sophomore running back Daniyel Ngata. The ASU football team was hit from every angle this offseason with the ongoing NCAA investigation, NIL deficiencies and the transfer portal.

Similar to others on this list, Ngata had every opportunity to hit the road and join a more stable program. Even so, Ngata decided to stay in Tempe and compete with Wyoming graduate transfer running back Xazavian Valladay for the starting spot.

With spring football having come and gone, everything points to Ngata and Valladay splitting time. Over his short career at ASU thus far, Ngata has tallied 417 rushing yards and five touchdowns. 

As the 2022 football season approaches, there’s still so much uncertainty for what this program can accomplish. Most pundits have already counted the Sun Devils out given the lack of star power on the roster.

If there’s one guy who proved he’s going to give his all to the program this year, it’s Ngata. 

Marcus Bagley, men’s basketball

Despite injuries keeping him off the court, the expectations for junior forward Marcus Bagley are still sky-high. Bagley is widely considered the best player on this year’s roster. 

Yet, in two seasons at ASU, he’s only played 15 games. Nevertheless, Bagley is recognized on a national stage, thus making him a face of Sun Devil athletics. 

The only real problem for Bagley this season is what if he stays healthy but is unable to match the expectations attached to his name? His collegiate averages are just 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. 

Those aren’t numbers that warrant a future in the NBA. That’s going to be the key for Bagley in 2022. If he can lead this Sun Devil basketball team to an NCAA Tournament berth or a deep run in the Pac-12 Tournament, then Bagley will surely be recognized as a face of Sun Devil athletics. 

Joe Lampe, baseball

May 25, 2022; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Joe Lampe (5) is tagged out at third base by Stanford infielder Drew Bowser (2) during the Pac-12 Baseball Tournament at Scottsdale Stadium. Ncaa Baseball Stanford At Arizona State

Even though ASU baseball has been horrendous these last few seasons, there is a bright spot: redshirt sophomore outfielder Joe Lampe. 

Lampe recorded 60 runs, 87 hits and 12 homers for the Sun Devils a season ago. As one of ASU’s best players, nobody would have faulted Lampe if he had entered the transfer portal.

However, Lampe decided to take to social media with a video stating his return to Sun Devil athletics for another season. 

With multiple years of eligibility left, Lampe has the opportunity to add his name to the list of great Sun Devil baseball players. It’s not just the redshirt sophomore’s offense that impresses, but his defense as well.

Lampe was selected to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team as a freshman in 2021. There’s no more surprising opponents with talent though; every Sun Devil opponent in 2022 should be well aware of what Lampe brings to the team. 

Jazmine Hill, softball

May 28, 2022; Tempe, Arizona; USA; ASU infielder Yannira Acuna (24) and outfielder Jazmine Hill (77) celebrate a defensive play against Northwestern during a Super Regional Game against Northwestern. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Breen-Arizona Republic Ncaa Softball Asu Softball Vs Northwestern Game Two

The senior outfielder is just one of the key returning players for Sun Devil softball from a year ago. When former coach Trisha Ford left for the same position at Texas A&M, the exodus of Sun Devils began.

Most of ASU’s top players entered the transfer portal and committed to other programs, but not Jaz Hill. Hill was one of ASU’s most consistent and passionate players in 2022. She accumulated 57 hits and 15 home runs for the Sun Devils last season.

Despite the skill Hill demonstrates, that’s not necessarily what makes her one of the five faces of Sun Devil athletics. It’s her commitment to the program when she had every opportunity to leave. 

Her coach, her teammates and her friends left Tempe in bunches to search for a new home. Instead of following suit, Hill decided to run it back at least one more time for Sun Devil nation.

Hill is arguably one of the top-two players on the roster as she enters her senior campaign. 

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