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March 6, 2010

Sun Devils set to honor seniors

Arizona State will honor three seniors Saturday for what will be their final regular season home game at Wells Fargo Arena. In the last three seasons, Eric Boateng, Derek Glasser and Jerren Shipp contributed to a program that won more than 20 games in each season for the first time since 1960-63. Here is a look at their careers and what they have accomplished.

Derek Glasser

A gritty, hard-nosed point guard who was one of coach Herb Sendek first two recruits at ASU (along with Shipp), Glasser was headed to be a walk-on at USC before his former high school coach at Artesia was hired by Sendek. With the Sun Devils having no point guard on the roster following the transfer of Kevin Kruger to UNLV, Sendek was desperate to find someone at a time when everyone else had already signed elsewhere and Glasser became the guy.

Now, Glasser is the guy. In ASU's win over USC Thursday he became the first ever player at the school to have 1,000 points and 500 assists for his career, and he is the all-time assist leader at the school. His impact on the ASU program, which won just two league games when Glasser and Shipp were freshmen, is difficult to overstate.

"I think in basketball as in anything in life the only true measure is how successful you are at something when compared against your potential," Sendek said several months ago. "And it's in that respect that Derek is one of the most accomplished players I've ever coached and I'm most pleased with what he's become. His freshman year, it wasn't pretty. I couldn't put him on the court sometimes, he couldn't bring the ball up the floor, he just wasn't good. Where he's at now compared to where he started is about as big an improvement as I've seen in any player I've coached. That's what it's all about, that's how you judge success."

Glasser has the record for most games played in a career at ASU -- 128 and counting. His .844 free throw percentage is also tops in school history. He will become the first person in his family to graduate from college when he gets his degree in the spring.

Eric Boateng

In a win at Stanford in late February, Boateng made all 11 of his field goal attempts to tie a school and Pac-10 record and he's been playing the best basketball of his career of late. It hasn't been an easy journey for Boateng, a transfer from Duke who played behind Jeff Pendergraph during his first two seasons on the court at ASU and saw limited minutes before this year. But his diligence is paying off.

Boateng, a native of London, England, is shooting a league-best .670 from the field in conference play and he's averaging 8.4 points and 6.8 rebounds.

"Eric is the hardest working player I've ever been around in all my life," Glasser said. "I can't imagine anyone that would outwork him. It seems like he's always in the gym, like he lives there. He's also getting in extra work, it doesn't matter what time of year it is or what's going on, he's there. He's put a lot of time in and he deserves whatever good things come his way."

Boateng has already earned his degree in Global Studies.

Jerren Shipp

All three seniors have taken dramatically different paths at ASU. Glasser struggled and hardly played as freshman while Boateng was sitting out the season post-transfer. Shipp, meanwhile, started 22 of the team's games and averaged 30.0 minutes, 7.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

As the team added more talent in subsequent years, Shipp saw his role reduce in each of the two years that followed and he admitted recently he considered transferring but ultimately decided to stick with it.

That perseverance has paid off dramatically for Shipp and the Sun Devils, has he's been a key player down the stretch this season including in a win over rival Arizona in Tucson last month.

"Jerren is a selfless, team-centered person," Sendek said earlier this season. "It's not about him, it's about how he can best help the program and that says a lot about his character. His role has shifted for us from year to year, but his commitment, his ethic, his care have never wavered. He's just a guy that you love to have on your team and in your program. You know what you're going to get from him when you put him on the floor."

Shipp's 126 career games is tied with Jeff Pendergraph for second place all-time at ASU, behind only Glasser.

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