Kenny Inge wore the Red and White with passion. Not many people have played for the Pack with the intensity that Kenny brought to the game. The highlight reel during his tenure (98-01) was a dunk fest featuring the Bash Brothers Kenny Inge and Damon Thornton. Pack fans will always appreciate the effort and heart that Kenny brought night in and night out. He didn’t just leave in imprint in the heart of the Wolfpack Nation; he also left a pretty hefty dent in the NC State record books. Kenny ranks 23rd in scoring (1,355), 7th in rebounding (833) and 9th in blocks (106). Please take a moment to realize how long our beloved University has been in existence and how many good players have come through its doors. Any player that finds themselves sitting in the NC State record books should be proud to be one of the best players to ever come through our program.
I’ve always had a deep appreciation for players that I would classify as ‘Monster Dunkers.’ I believe that God has blessed me in many ways, but height was not one of those blessings. I was the kid on the middle school basketball team that was hung up on the coat rack by the 6’6 dude. I’ve always dreamed of being able to dunk the basketball. Since I am vertically challenged, I firmly believe that if you do have the ability to dunk, you should do it with authority and scream like a mad man after you do it. Kenny made this an art form during his college years. He was a man to be feared on the court. With that being said, Kenny is one of the nicest people you will ever meet off the court. He is incredibly easy to talk to. Even though I have only known Kenny for a little while, I am proud and honored to have him as a friend.
I talked to Kenny for a while the other day on the phone and he was enthusiastic about doing an interview and reconnecting with the Wolfpack Nation. Here is how the conversation broke down:
WolfpackHoops: So Kenny, what has your life been like since college?
Kenny Inge: Well I graduated in ’01 and went to play pro ball in Lithuania. I played there for three months but I was only paid for 1. It was one of those nightmarish experiences that you have probably heard other players testify to. I then moved back the States and played for the Rockford Lightning in the CBA. Even though I came in half way through the season I was able to earn the Rookie of the Year award. This caught the attention of the Hawks and the Hornets and I had tryouts scheduled with both of them. Unfortunately I never got the chance to tryout because I got hurt in the CBA playoffs. I tore the cartilage behind my patella, and the injury was so severe that it ended my basketball career. I have had 6 surgeries on my knee and it still hurts to this day. Shortly after I had the initial surgery I got married (2002). My wife Christine (McNally) and I dated all throughout college and she actually played soccer at NC State. We also have a 5-year-old daughter named Kendall.
WolfpackHoops: You are currently the head varsity basketball coach at Cary Academy. How did you get into coaching?
Kenny Inge: Well once I got hurt I wanted to stay in the game. A lot of people helped me fulfill my basketball dreams, so I thought maybe I could help other people fulfill their dreams. I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to coach high school basketball one day. This is my first season as the head coach at Cary Academy. We finished the regular season 17-8 and 2nd in the conference behind Ravenscroft. We have already tied the school’s record for wins in a season and we are looking to break it this week in the conference tournament.
WolfpackHoops: What would you say is your coaching strategy?
Kenny Inge: We hang our hats on the defensive end. You can’t do anything if you’re not stopping people. We try to spread the court on offense and take good shots.
WolfpackHoops: Do you still keep up with the Pack?
Kenny Inge: You know I always got to keep my eye on the Pack. In fact, I’m taking my team to the Virginia game on the 21st against Virginia. I’ll get to take them around the RBC Center and into the locker rooms. I’ve also had the chance to talk to Coach Lowe and he is a real good guy. He was really encouraging to me and made me feel welcome when I came back into town.
WolfpackHoops: Do you still keep in touch with any of the Pack players you played with?
Kenny Inge: I still keep up with Ishua Benjamin, Damon Thornton, Will Roach, Ron Kelly, Justin Gainey, and a couple others. In fact, Damon dropped by one of our games the other night.
WolfpackHoops: What’s your favorite memory wearing the Red and White?
Kenny Inge: I have two favorite moments. The first would be when we beat UNC in the Dean Dome and C.C. Harrison hit 8 three pointers. The second would be the game against Georgia Tech in Reynolds where I had 7 dunks (29 points).
WolfpackHoops: Some fans might be new to the Wolfpack Nation and didn’t have the privilege of watching you play. Describe your game to them.
Kenny Inge: I was a 6’8 PF and other teams thought I was undersized. They thought they were going to have an easy time against me. Well, that wasn’t going to be the case that night. If you stepped onto the court and you weren’t wearing the Red and White I felt sorry for you. That is the “Court Kenny Inge.” Off the court I’m the nicest guy you’ve ever met. I played the game with all my heart every time I stepped on the court.
WolfpackHoops: If you could say anything to the Wolfpack Nation what would you tell them?
Kenny Inge: We appreciate that you support us win or lose. Forget Duke and Carolina. We have the best fans in the country!
Justin Gainey Named Associate Head Coach at Marquette
Former NC State Point Guard Justin Gainey (1997-00) has been hired by Marquette as their Associate Head Coach, serving along head coach Steve Wojciechowski, the former Duke point guard.
“We are excited to welcome Justin and the Gainey family back to Marquette,” Wojciechowski said. “Justin is one of the nation’s top rising coaches and his talents, ability to build meaningful relationships and myriad of experiences alongside some of the game’s best teachers will serve our program, and most importantly our players, incredibly well.” (Link)
This isn’t Gainey’s first stint at Marquette, serving as Director of Operations from 2014-17. The past two seasons, Gainey served as an Assistant Coach with Sean Miller at Arizona. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Coach at Santa Clara for one season with his former head coach at NC State, Herb Sendek.
Gainey’s coaching career began at NC State, where he served as Director of Operations for three seasons (2006-09), and then he went on to work at Appalachian State and Elon as well.
Dennis Smith Jr. Showing Love to Fayetteville in the Midst of Covid-19
Former NC State Freshman of the Year Dennis Smith Jr. never forgets where he came from. The New York Knicks Point Guard is always showing love for Fayetteville, North Carolina.
According to Ian Begley, DSJ is providing food vouchers for 575 first responders at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, and 32 computers for local students in Fayetteville.
Here’s a quote from Dennis Smith Jr. on his donation: “Fayetteville and basketball have given so much to me…. I wanted to show support for the real heroes during these tragic times – the first responders.” Smith Jr.’s full quote, via the Knicks, is here: https://t.co/EtvF1LhVKh pic.twitter.com/G1RpvhGTjF
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 27, 2020
Andrew Knizner Enters 2020 as the #6 Prospect in the Cardinals Organization
Former NC State Catcher Andrew Knizner enters the 2020 season ranked as the #6 prospect in the Cardinals organization.
Knizner was drafted in the 7th round by St. Louis in 2016, and was called up for the 1st time to the Big Leagues last year, when Yadier Molina was placed on the disabled list.
The jump wasn’t an easy one, with Knizner hitting .226 in 18 games.
Despite some time in the Majors at the end of last season, Knizner will begin 2020 in Triple-A Memphis, where he has already played 83 games, hitting .283.
Cardinals legend Molina is back to full strength, and backup Matt Wieters was signed to a 1-year deal, meaning it’s not quite time for Knizner.
Will Wilson Enters 2020 as the #10 Prospect in the Giants Organization
Former NC State All-American Shortstop Will Wilson will is entering the 2020 baseball season ranked as the #10 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization.
After being drafted by the Angels with the 15th overall pick in the MLB Draft last year, Wilson hit .275 in 46 games of Rookie ball with the Orem Owlz.
In December, the Angels traded him to the Giants.
In his final season at NC State, Wilson led the team with a .335 batting average, 20 doubles, 16 home runs and a .661 slugging percentage, and finished eighth all-time in career doubles (57) and homers (39), and ninth in total bases (409).
Wilson is the 3rd highest draft pick in NC State history, and only the 2nd batter to be drafted in the 1st round, alongside another shortstop who is currently in the league as well: Trea Turner.
According to MLB.com, Wilson is expected to make it to the Majors in 2022.