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Gameday: 5 Questions NC State Needs Answered vs. App State

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NC State vs. Appalachian State
Raleigh, NC (PNC Arena)
Tonight | 7pm | ESPN3

NC State opens the season tonight at 7pm against Appalachian State. The Mountaineers come in hoping to put a 15-16 season from a year ago, behind them, however the Pack has other plans. Gottfried and company are opening the season with a nearly entirely different team. The only two returning players who will be suiting up for this game are Lewis and Warren, both of whom played big roles last season. They will be looked to for leadership, but this team still has more questions than answers. Let’s take a look at the 5 major questions we want answered tonight.

1) What is the starting lineup?
After a preseason of constantly changing the lineup, tinkering with combinations and allowing freshman to get comfortable, Mark Gottfried has to finally pick his 5. Coming into the preseason there was a question about whether Cat Barber would outplay Lewis and cause a PG controversy. Lewis put that theory to rest quickly, but where does Barber fit in now? He’s played well in preseason games but still needs to adjust to the 2 spot where he’ll see most of his minutes. Then you have Dez Lee. The juco transfer has come in and really impressed with his physicality and ability to score it. So who is going to get the nod tonight? I think it’s a sure bet that Ralston Turner and TJ Warren are in the starting 5, but who’s the 5th? Kyle Washington? I think Beejay Anya has played himself into a strict reserve role at this point and Lennard Freeman will see time, but likely won’t start. I think it will be interesting to see which way Gottfried plays this.

2) Can Turner, Lee and Barber score it?
Lewis is going to score a bit and we all know Warren is going to be the team’s leading scorer, but State isn’t going to win much with only two guys putting up points. They’re going to need Turner, Lee and Barber to produce in that category. Lee and Turner will be your most likely to help in this area, as they are more built to score, but Barber could also chip in at times. Turner and Lee are going to be the biggest keys to this season. If they are great, NC State has the chance to be a big surprise in the ACC, however if they struggle, it’s likely the predictions will come true and the Wolfpack will find themselves near the conference basement.

3) Is Kyle Washington ready?
I think the freshman has shown readiness in spurts, but there’s no time to guide him along. Washington has to be ready now. With Vandenberg out and Anya simply not ready to contribute, it’s going to be Washington’s position to lose. Sure, Freeman will be there for backup, but Kyle is going to have to really anchor the middle for the Wolfpack. He’s going to have to really rebound and really defend in the post or State is going to be killed in the paint night after night. Washington had a decent showing in the first exhibition game but really came alive in the 2nd. This is a kid who was very highly recruited, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him break out in this season opener.

4.) What’s up with Anya?
I’m not sure we’ll see enough of him tonight to really get this answered, but I’m confused. This is a kid who was highly touted coming in. Sure, he showed up a little overweight, but he’s been really outplayed by his own guys and opponents in every game so far. I know there is tons of potential there and he’s a big, big kid, but I wonder what’s going on there. State really needs him to become a star at some point, but I think step one is to get him into playing shape. We might not see the real Anya until midseason, however it’d be nice if he could get a little run in this one and show us something.

5. Can this team defend/rebound?
Sure, all we’ve seen is exhibition games and scrimmages, but so far neither defense nor rebounding has been great. At times I’ve seen really good defense, especially from Turner, Barber, Washington and yes…even Warren, but what about against real competition? UNCP did play hard, but they were undersized and most of their team was way under-talented. What happens when this team faces real teams with real size? Will they be able to match physicality of a stronger team? Will they be disciplined enough to block out and out rebound a bigger front line? Tonight they’ll face a team has some decent size (a front line of 6’8 guys) so we’ll learn something as we watch how they attack the boards.

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NC State might not blow out Appalachian State, however they should walk out with a win tonight if they can address the questions above. Realize that there is going to be a learning curve with this team and there is going to be bumps in the road since they are so young, but this is a group with a great attitude and a bright future and I really believe that once they get a little experience that NC State is going to surprise a few people.

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NC State Basketball

Jersey Numbers for 2024-25 NC State Men’s Basketball Team Revealed

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The NC State Men’s Basketball team revealed the Jersey Numbers for their 2024-25 team yesterday.

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Numbers that are Staying the Same

Michael O’Connell – #12

Ben Middlebrooks – #34

Dennis Parker Jr. – #11

KJ Keatts – #13

Jordan Snell – #22

Numbers that have Changed

Jayden Taylor – #1 –> #8

Breon Pass – #10 –> #4

Numbers of New Players

Mike James – #0 (He wore #0 at Louisville last year)

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield – #1 (He wore #5 at Louisville last year)

Paul McNeil – #2 (He wore #2 in High School last year)

Dontrez Styles – #3 (He wore #0 at Georgetown last year)

Trey Parker – #5 (He wore #5 in High School last year)

Marcus Hill – #10 (He wore #0 at Bowling Green last year)

We don’t know what number Ismael Diouf will be wearing at NC State next year yet. 

 

 

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Kareem Richardson Promoted To Associate Head Coach at NC State

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RALEIGH, N.C. – NC State men’s basketball head coach Kevin Keatts announced Wednesday that assistant coach Kareem Richardson has been promoted to associate head coach effective immediately.

“I’m proud to promote Kareem to associate head coach,” Keatts said. “He is a valuable member of my staff and has really enhanced NC State both in his relationship with our players and staff, but also his ability to teach, scout and game plan. He is a well-rounded coach that has an impact on every facet of our program, and I feel fortunate to have him as part of my staff.”

The upcoming 2024-25 season will be Richardson’s third at NC State. The Pack has earned bids to the NCAA Tournament in both seasons Richardson has been on staff, including last season when NC State won the ACC Championship and advanced to the Final Four.

NC State has had three different guards (DJ Horne, Jarkel Joiner and Terquavion Smith) earn All-ACC honors under Richardson’s tutelage.

Richardson was previously head coach at UMKC for 2013-19 and has been an assistant coach at power conference programs such as Louisville, Xavier and Clemson in his 25-year coaching career.

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WATCH: Getting to Know NC State’s Dontrez Styles

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NC State Men’s Basketball is releasing videos helping fans get to know the new players on the 2024-25 roster.

Below is the video of Georgetown Transfer Forward Dontrez Styles (6’6″/212), with a transcript underneath.

I’m Dontrez Styles, a transfer from Georgetown University. I knew where I wanted to be. At the end of the day, I knew I wanted to come back home and play for a guy like Keatts. That was the main thing for me.

Being back home is amazing. My family can see me play every game now. An hour from Kinston, North Carolina. It’s a small city. I love it. Just growing there. A lot of great guys. A lot of great basketball players. My family is there. It’s my life.

I grew up in the Brandon Ingram era, so I went to every Kinston High School game. Just seeing him play motivated me to get in the gym and keep working. The grind has paid off.

It’s crazy. I would have never imagined this happening. It’s very rare for someone to go to North Carolina and NC State. Me being one of the first guys to do that, I believe it’s different, but I’m enjoying it so far. I can’t wait to get started.

Coach (Levi) Watkins recruited me when he was at Ole Miss. He’s been with me since my Sophomore year, I believe. Just having that relationship with them makes it easier every day.

Just being back, it’s going to be very fun, especially now. The hype is crazy. I can’t wait to be back home and get started, and hopefully win that National Championship.

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Styles was the 2nd leading scorer for Georgetown this past season, averaging 12.8 points per game, while grabbing 5.8 boards. He shot 36.8% from three.

Originally, Sytles was a consensus 4-Star prospect in UNC’s 2021 recruiting class. 247Sports ranked him as the #62 overall player nationally, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina, playing for Kinston High School.

After two seasons with the Tar Heels, Styles entered the Portal, and took an Official Visit to NC State and Georgetown, and ultimately chose the Hoyas.

Styles will be spending his final year of eligibility with NC State.

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WATCH: Getting to Know NC State’s Mike James

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NC State Men’s Basketball is releasing videos helping fans get to know the new players on the 2024-25 roster.

Below is the video of Louisville Transfer Guard Mike James (6’5″/200), with a transcript underneath.

I last played at the University of Louisville. I spent three years there. Played two. Redshirted my first year because of injury. I enjoyed my time there, but all good things got to come to an end, and I’m here at North Carolina State. 

Entering the Portal is just like going through High School recruitment again. You’re getting your phone blown up every other hour, every single day. You’ve got to get on long phone calls. You’re kind of going through the process again, but this time, you kind of know what you want. You’ve been through College Basketball, so you know what questions to ask, what to expect, and you kind of just get straight to the point. I feel like the process was similar, but different this time. It went a lot quicker, and I knew exactly what I wanted. I want to win at the end of the day. Playing time is earned, and all that stuff. You’ve got to come in here and take care of that. 

Winning is very important, and I haven’t done that so far, but that’s the one thing I want to change about my college career. Seeing y’all go on that run was really appealing to me. 

I like to get to the basket. Draw fouls. Finish at the rim. Knock down shots on the perimeter. Defend 1-4 positions on the other end. 

I want to come in and win. I want to be a leader for our team. I’m an older guy now, so I want to be a leader. I want to come in and win another ACC Championship, and make another NCAA Tournament run. 

_______

This past year, James averaged 12.6 points per game (3rd on the team) and 5 rebounds. He’s extremely physical and aggressive, taking 47% of his field goal attempts at the rim (making 46%). As a result, he draws a lot of fouls, ranking 10th in the ACC in Fouls Drawn, and 4th in Free Throw Rate. James made opponents pay this year when they put him on the line, making 81.8% from the charity stripe, which ranked 15th in the ACC.

James shot the ball better as a Redshirt Freshman, than he did this past season. His Effective Field Goal Percentage in 2022-23 was 55.8%, which ranked 19th in the ACC, and his True Shooting Percentage of 59.6% ranked 14th.

News broke about James entering the Transfer Portal back on March 25th, and NC State was quick to reach out. Kevin Keatts and his staff recruited the former 4-star prospect out of high school heavily, but he ultimately chose the Cardinals.

After redshirting his first year in Louisville due to torn achilles, James has been a starter for the Cardinals the past two years.

He does have the ability to knock down a three, making 34.8% for his career.

James has 2 years of eligibility remaining.

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