Rewind to two years ago and you might remember seeing freshman Jordan Bachynski on the basketball court at Arizona State.
You were probably thinking, "Man, that kid is big...and he looks agile. Maybe the Devils have found a diamond in the rough?"
But coming off of a two-year Mormon mission, the layer of rust on the 7-foot-2 Canadian's game was too thick to chip away in a short amount of time. Bachynski logged a DNP (did not play) in seven games as a first-year player for a team that went just 12-19 on the season.
Midway through his sophomore season, the light bulb went on. In the words of his head coach Herb Sendek, Bachynski released his 'inner animal', averaging 10 points, six rebounds and two blocks per game over his last 13 contests.
And Saturday in Tempe, he made history. With his 13-point, 12-rebound, 12-blocked shot performance, Bachynski notched the first triple-double in school history during the Sun Devils' 87-76 win over Cal State Northridge.
"It's been a long road," Bachynski said Saturday. "From my mission and taking two years off and last year coaches being patient with me, to my freshman year not playing pretty much at all, just the development I've gone under is a testament to the great coaching staff here. They do a phenomenal job developing players."
With his school-record 12 blocks Saturday, Bachynski re-took the national lead in that category from Kansas' Jeff Withey. What may be more amazing, Bachynski accomplished the feat without committing a foul and has only 15 personal fouls in Arizona State's first nine games.
"A big part (of staying out of foul trouble) is not trying to block your man's shot. Occasionally, I'll block the big man, but most of my blocks come off help," Bachynski explained.
Another big part of it is natural instinct. Many seven-footers aren't great shot-blockers, but Bachynski has a "knack" for rejections.
"It's not something that I think is easily taught," Sendek said. "The great shot blockers that I've had a chance to be around simply have that knack. It's not something you typically show film on or try to teach someone to do. Some guys just have the knack, and some guys do not."
Having that knack helped Bachynski become just the third Division I player this season to notch a triple-double, joining Withey who scored 16 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked 12 shots vs. San Jose State November 26 and Marshall guard Deandre Kane who scored 33 points, grabbed 11 boards and handed out 10 assists in a double-overtime loss to Hofstra November 18.
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