With the NBA Draft coming up this Thursday night, we thought that we would catch up with Brandon Costner to see how he is feeling with the big day approaching. The former McDonald’s All-American has been trying to show that he belongs in the NBA by attending every workout possible and leaving with positive feedback wherever he has been. Here is how our conversation with Brandon broke down:
WPH:How have the NBA workouts been going and what has been the feedback that you’ve been getting?
Costner: Things have been going very well. I’m very upbeat. I had my last workout with the Nets 2 days ago. In all of the workouts I thought I really played well, and showed these guys that I belong and that I’m an NBA player. I’m really excited.
WPH: What has the competition been like at the NBA workouts?
Costner: The competition has been tough. Each workout is different and the intensity varies. Some teams run you to death and then play you to see if you will quit. Other are more interested in seeing your skills by doing drills and playing games of 3-on-3 and 1-on-1.
WPH: Obviously your pursuing a career in basketball, but what are some of your other aspirations in life? What do you plan on doing “when the ball stops bouncing”?
Costner: Hopefully I can milk basketball as long as possible. But my future lies in youth. I would like to develop a basketball academy and teach the game and teach fundamentals. I want to be a leader and a mentor to younger people. I would also like to start a non-profit organization one day that gives inner city kids the chance to learn to play sports that they might not be accustomed to like golf and tennis. I really want to do as much as I can to affect as many young people as I can. So many people were instrumental in helping me become the person I am today and I want to do the same for others.
WPH: How would you describe your time at NC State?
Costner: I really enjoyed my time. I was there all four years. I gave the school all I had. Obviously I wish we could have been more successful, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world.
WPH: What is your favorite memory from playing basketball with the Pack?
Costner: I would have to say making the tournament finals my Freshmen year. My biggest thing is winning and we were playing some of our best basketball then.
WPH: What is your relationship like with Coach Lowe?
Costner: I have a real good relationship with Coach Lowe. I talked with him 2 days ago to give him an update on how every thing is going. It’s the type of relationship that a player should have with his coach.
WPH: Why did you decide to forego your Senior season?
Costner: It really had a lot to do with me graduating. I also think that it is hard to ignore the grumbling around campus and from the Wolfpack Nation about how many wanted to see the old regime out of there. When the majority of people had negative things to say to me, I kind of got the feeling that it was my time.
WPH: How much do you think the negativity of the fanbase and media outlets affects you as a player and the team as a whole?
Costner: I wouldn’t say that it consumes us, but we definitely hear it. Seeing that this is a our job, we understand that it is part of the territory and we are used to it. The ignorant rumors and people saying that we don’t care about the university and that we don’t care about winning hurt. Half the people don’t know how much goes into what we do every day. Bottom line nobody loses on purpose. It’s the paper, it’s the friends at school who read this stuff religiously. They come up and say “did you see what so and so said about you.” Then we go and see what people have said. One of the biggest things was the year that J.J. was here. I think that as a team it affected us and we were out there trying our best and they are saying that we have chemistry issues and that Gavin is messing with my girlfriend. The thing is, we all get along and we are a really tight team. I mean we all hang out outside of basketball.
WPH: Did all of this negativity leave a bad taste in your mouth when it comes to your opinion of NC State?
Costner:I definitely don’t have a bad taste in my mouth. I truly believe that the State fans that supported me and my teammates and the people that are really positive and love the university made my time at State worthwhile.
WPH: What relationships did you develop with your teammates that you think will last into the future?
Costner: From day one on campus me and Courtney have kind of been inseparable. I talk with Ben, Simon and Trevor every day. We all became very close especially because of everything we went through. I see us doing that through the rest of my life. All of the NC State alumni and the present team make a big Wolfpack family. People like Josh Powell, Marcus Melvin and Anthony Grundy have come back and been big impacts on all of us. They all come back and play and workout in the summer. If we are not talking every day then it is every week. All of us have a lasting bond and friendship. It’s a huge family. I talked with Engin all last year and he is one of my best friends. They are the ones that teach us how to be student athletes and better people.
WPH: Are you going to be like the Alumni that you have mentioned, coming back in the summers and pouring into the Pack players?
Costner: Oh definitely. I want to come back and be one of the guys like Josh Powell, who took me under his wing. I want to come back and pass on the tradition.
WPH: Thank you so much for your time Brandon. We wish you the best and look forward to following you wherever you go.
We really appreciate Brandon’s honesty and transparency. I hope that this interview will be read by as many State fans as possible. I think Brandon’s words are important to hear. The words that we say and the words that we type can truly be detrimental to the health of our Basketball program.
Thank you Brandon for all that you gave to this university!
Terquavion Smith is a Top-10 Scorer in the NBA G-League
Former Wolfpack scoring guard, Terquavion Smith is going off in the NBA-G League, and is now the 9th best scorer in the NBA G-League.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) November 26, 2023
He’s averaging 24ppg, shooting 40% from the floor and 37% from long range. He’s also adding 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game. But putting the stats aside, his performances have been electric.
Terq Smith with the hammer SLAM. pic.twitter.com/lglY7PHGOk
— Delaware Blue Coats (@blue_coats) November 26, 2023
His team, the Blue Coats, are an affiliate of the 76ers. The Sixers are being led by Joel Embid (their center), their PG Tyrese Maxey, and PF Tobias Harris. Smith is a SG, and honestly, I think there’s a shot he gets his chance at some point this season. Kelly Oubre Jr has been out with a broken rib, and his replacement, De’Anthony Melton is doing alright, but his stats aren’t all that different than Terquavion’s.
Melton is averaging 12 points per game, shooting 40% from the floor and 40% from 3pt range. He’s adding 4 rebound and 4 assists.
Smith is the more explosive player, but it’s likely the 76ers want to see a little more offensive efficiency before they start thinking about moving him up.
Former NC State SS Trea Turner Set Phillies’ Record in NLDS
Former NC State All-American Shortstop Trea Turner set a Phillies’ postseason record, collecting 4 hits in Philly’s Game 4 3-1 victory over the Braves. The Phillies first went to the playoffs in 1908, and Turner is the first player to ever have 4 hits in one game.
Turner was 4-4, and was a triple shy of the cycle.
Most people will remember Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos from the NLDS, but it’s Turner that’s slashing 500/.539/.942 in the 2023 playoffs thus far.
Trea Turner gives the Phillies the lead in the 5th inning! pic.twitter.com/x6ExY5XmYp
— Phillies Tailgate (@PhilsTailgate) October 13, 2023
Trea Turner joins the homer party! pic.twitter.com/q3SHTEJ9Lw
— Phillies Tailgate (@PhilsTailgate) October 11, 2023
Trea Turner is worth every damn penny. pic.twitter.com/OyDKWosJRS
— Phillies Tailgate (@PhilsTailgate) October 8, 2023
MLB 2023 Season PackPros Roundup
Five former NC State baseball players played in the Major Leagues in 2023. Here’s a roundup of how it went for the four of them.
Shortstop Trea Turner signed an 11-year $300 million contract with Philadelphia heading into the 2023 season. Turner was coming off of his 2nd All-Star game appearance. 2023 was a little bit of a mixed bag for Turner. Through much of the season, the Phillies looked like they had made a terrible investment in Turner, but he finished the season extremely well. He finished his first season in Philly with a batting average of .266, which is the lowest of his career, if you don’t count the .225 he batted in his first year in the MLB, batting .225 in only 27 games. With that being said, his 26 home runs were the 2nd most of his career, and he stole 30 bases for the first time since 2021. Turner’s 102 Runs ranked 10th in the National League, and his 30 Stolen Bases ranked 9th.
Turner was taken with the 13th overall pick in 2014.
Carlos Rodon’s first year in New York was his worst season in the MLB to date. After signing a 6-year $162 million with the Yankees in the offseason, expectations were high for what Rodon would bring to the Yankees. He was coming off of back-to-back All-Star seasons in Chicago and San Francisco. Injury has plagued Rodon at times throughout his career, and the injury bug struck three times this season. As a result, Rodon only started 14 games. He finished the season with a 3-8 record, and a outrageous 6.85 ERA.
Rodon was taken with the 3rd overall pick in 2014.
Catcher Patrick Bailey made his MLB debut this season. He was called up from Triple A to the Giants on May 19. While Bailey’s offensive numbers won’t ‘wow’ you, he was one of the best fielding catchers in all of the MLB this year. In 97 games, Bailey posted a .233 batting average, with 7 HRs and 48 RBI. In fielding, Bailey was the best in the Majors in Framing, 2nd in Pop Time, and 2nd in Caught Stealing Above Average. He ranked 6th, throwing out 15 base stealers.
Bailey was taken with the 13th overall pick in 2020.
Catcher Andrew Knizner entered the year on thin ice with the St. Louis Cardinals organization and the fanbase, but by seasons end, he became a fan favorite. Despite the fact that he is behind starter Willson Contreras, Knizner played 70 games, and looked like a starting MLB catcher in many of them. Knizner finished with a career high in batting average (.241), Runs (30), 2B (11), HR (10), RBI (31), SLG (.424) and OPS (.712). Technically Knizner doesn’t become an undrafted free agent until 2026, signing a 1-year $1.1 million contract in arbitration prior to the season.
Knizner was taken in the 7th round in 2016.
Pitcher Evan Justice was called up to the Colorado Rockies for a brief stint in his first season of professional baseball. Things didn’t go well after the call up, posting an 8.59 ERA in 9 appearances, striking out 7 batters in 7.1 innings. As a result, he was optioned back down to Triple-A. In 2023, Justice pitched in A, AA, AAA and the majors. In the minors, he had an impressive 6-1 record with a 3.49 ERA, striking out an impressive 63 batters in 38.2 innings. Opponents batting average against him was a putrid .131, and his WHIP was 1.11.
Justice was taken in the 5th round in 2021.
PI EXCLUSIVE: AJ Cole Shares His NC State Story
Former NC State Punter A.J. Cole is now a Pro Bowl Punter for the Las Vegas Raiders. Cole averaged 42.2 yards per punt while serving as the Wolfpack’s punter, which ranks 4th in school history. Since going undrafted in 2019, Cole was signed as a free agent by the Raiders, and he’s been their starter ever since. Cole was named to the Pro Bowl in 2021 and 2022, and earned 1st Team All Pro honors in 2021.
I caught up with Cole, and he shared how he ended up as the punter at NC State, what his time in Raleigh meant to him, how being a Wolfpack football player prepared him for the NFL, what it’s like to play with and against former teammates, and what NC State means to him today.
I’ll let him share his story in his own words.
“I went to the NC State camp in the summer going into my Senior year. They were looking to scholarship a punter. I had started punting in December, right after my Junior season ended, so I was still super raw. The coach that was running the camp set up a competition for Coach Doeren to watch the Punters. To qualify for the competition, you had 2 chances to hit a 38-yard punt with 3.8 seconds of hang time, which is not that hard. I was pretty nervous though, and shanked my 2 qualifying punts. So they eliminated everyone that didn’t qualify and brought up the guys that were going to kick in front of Coach Doeren. Well, the coach running the camp yells at me to ‘come over,’ and I told him I didn’t qualify. He said “You sure? I’m pretty sure you did. Hop in the line.” So I hopped in the line, and kicked really well. Coach Doeren brought me up to his office after the camp, and offered me a scholarship on the spot
It was pretty funny though, because I had never punted in a game before. So when I got home, they asked me for my hudl highlight tape, so they could watch it as a staff, and I had to tell them I had never punted in a game before, but I’d send them my tape after a couple games.
My experience at NC State was incredible. The biggest thing I always tell people about State is the people are great. From teammates, to coaches, to professors, to the other students, I really just enjoyed the kind of person that NC State attracts. I had a chance to pursue 2 dreams while I was there. I got to chase an engineering degree and play football. Obviously, I’m doing the football thing right now, but if that hadn’t worked out, my NC State degree would have served me well. Raleigh, North Carolina means a lot to me, and it really helped shape me into the man I am.
I feel like NC State prepared me well for the NFL. Being in a consistently competitive environment in the ACC definitely helped adjusting to the level of competition in the league. The facilities are world class, and the strength and conditioning program helped me make some super crucial changes to my body that allowed me to reach my potential.
Playing with Jakobi Meyers again has been awesome. It’s cool to play at this level with guys that you knew from college. We always talk about how the Pack is doing, and we do some reminiscing on the Raleigh days. There’s so many NC State guys in the league right now, it feels like every week I’m seeing an old teammate. That’s really special.
I absolutely still keep up with NC State. I watch all the games I can, and my friends from college are still my best friends.