Dealing with a coaching change is not easy for a player in college. You are recruited to play a certain style and pitched what the program will expect from you in that system at the next level. For Kodi Justice in particular, the firing of head coach Herb Sendek had to have been tough.
You have to go all the way back to Justice’s sophomore year at Dobson High School in Mesa to when Justice first committed to Sendek and ASU. He was part of the plan for a long time and would ultimately play just 18 games for Sendek before sustaining a fractured navicular bone in his left foot which was a season ending injury.
However with Justice’s play in 2015-16 under Bobby Hurley, you would never know of any difficult transition because of a coaching change. He has flourished for the Sun Devils during his sophomore campaign and has solidified an important role with the team this season off the bench.
“I was just ready to get back after sitting out for nine months,” explained Justice. “It was tough just to sit there so when I was able to get back out there on the floor I was ready to give it everything I had. Working out with Coach Hurley for the first time and just trying to get back to where I was, develop my game more and just become a better player.”
“Kodi gives me confidence when I go to my bench,” said Coach Hurley. “I know I can bring in a guy who is going to have a positive impact with what’s going on. It’s exciting because he is young and a developing player and he adds a dimension that we need with his shooting ability.”
When watching ASU this season, one of the biggest areas that Justice has lifted the team this season has been his shooting ability from behind the arc. Justice leads the team in three point field goal percentage at 40.9 percent and and in total three pointers made with 45 through 24 games. He is second on the team in true shooting percentage at 57.3 percent which measures shooting efficiency taking into account two-point and three point field goals as well as free throws.
It doesn’t matter how close or how far from the three point line Justice is, if it’s an open look, he as the confidence in himself as well as the confidence from his coach that he can make it.
“He just builds confidence in us,” stated Justice. “It’s not just me, we all will shoot deeper shots if we are open. With all the work we put in in the gym in the offseason, it doesn’t matter how deep it is. If you have the confidence that you can make it, he’s going to let you shoot it.”
“He’s got to use his judgement and he knows and I think he believes in himself,” added Hurley. “I’ve seen him make shots from serious distance. He’s got range. It just comes down to groove, if he’s in a good groove and if he feels like the shot is appropriate, then I trust him to make it. He’s made enough of them.”
On the season, Justice is averaging just over eight points, two assists and two rebounds per game and his role in providing that spark off the bench is as important as ever as the Los Angeles schools come to Wells Fargo Arena this weekend.