Sun Devil hoops fever: Demand for ASU basketball 'Guard U' shirts is overwhelming

TEMPE, AZ - UPDATE: "Guard U" shirts are now available at Cactus Sports at 515 S Mill Ave in Tempe.


The undefeated Arizona State Sun Devils men's basketball team has become the talk of the state, as well as the college hoops world -- and with that has come overwhelming interest in a certain shirt with a catchy slogan.

During ASU's upset of No. 2 Kansas on Dec. 10, Sun Devil players were spotted wearing shirts with the slogan "Guard U," a reference to the outstanding guards who have guided the Sun Devils to a No. 3 national ranking. Since then, demand for those shirts from fans has gone through the roof.

The shirts aren't available in stores just yet but can be purchased via pre-order from a couple of outlets, including Cactus Sports in downtown Tempe, which began accepting pre-orders for the shirts last week but has found it challenging to keep up with demand.

As of Tuesday, Cactus Sports owner Tony Scoma estimates he has received between 700-800 orders. He said the sudden basketball frenzy is "probably the most insane thing" he's seen during his time in business.

"To have this be such a huge phenomenon in such a short amount of time -- we've had nothing like this happen in 25 years," he said.

The fact that the shirts aren't available just yet hasn't stopped fans from offering to buy them from ASU basketball student manager Drew Worman.

"It's unreal. It's a fun ride," Worman said. "Since they're doing well, everyone wants to be part of it."

ASU coach Bobby Hurley was an outstanding guard during his playing days; he led the Duke Blue Devils to back-to-back national championships in 1991-92. So, it wasn't a surprise when he revealed last week that he's responsible for the Guard U slogan.

Hurley coined the phrase following the Devils' championship in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational during Thanksgiving weekend.

"After Vegas, and beating Xavier and winning that championship, it was the coaches and myself and Dave Cohen, our administrator -- we were talking about guards, and I think I said, 'This is going to be Guard U.' And then they were saying, 'Oh, we've got to go with this,'" he said.

ASU isn't exactly known for men's basketball, but fans have begun to take notice of what Hurley & Co. are doing in the desert.

A total of 10,797 loud and rowdy fans showed up for Sunday's game over Vanderbilt, by far their best turnout at Wells Fargo Arena this season. The Devils won that game to improve to 10-0 for the first time in school history.

The Sun Devils will look to keep the train rolling when they host Longwood on Tuesday night and Pacific on Friday. Tickets for those games can be purchased here, and 500 members of the 942 Crew student section will receive free Guard U shirts before Tuesday's game. The Devils will then have a week off before they head to Tucson to face the No. 18 Arizona Wildcats on Dec. 30.

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