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Former NC State Forward TJ Warren finished his rookie season strong with the Phoenix Suns.  On the year, he averaged 15.4 minutes per game, but in April he saw that average jump to 25.7 minutes per game.  He averaged 6.1 points per game, while shooting an impressive 52.8% from the field.  His future looks bright according to Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, who projects that he will start in the NBA one day.

This week we had the chance to catch up with T.J. and pick his brain on what the past year has been like for him.

The transition from college to the NBA…
It’s been a smooth transition for me, minus the early injury that kept me out a month. With every opportunity, I believe I performed pretty well.  Coming on strong at the end of the year gave me some good momentum heading into the next year. I’m really excited for my future with the Suns.

How NC State prepared him for his rookie season…
My 2 years at NC State were an amazing experience for me and definitely helped prepare for the next level. The coaching staff gave me a good boost of confidence from start to finish. Gottfried and the staff really helped me improve myself and keep a strong work ethic throughout my 2 years that has carried on into the NBA.

What it was like to watch NC State in the NCAA tournament…
It was a beautiful thing seeing that group make a strong run like that. That Sweet 16 run was really impressive. Gottfried does a really great job motivating guys and getting them ready to play on the big stage.

The toughest defensive matchup this year was…
The toughest guy I had to defend was Kevin Durant, the former MVP of the league. With him having the ball so much, he is definitely a tough cover. Covering him was a rookie moment for me.  Haha.

Who he likes in the NBA Finals…
I like the Warriors in this series.  With Kyrie down I think it’s going to be tough, but it’s hard to go against Lebron. It’s been an entertaining series so far. I’m glad to see good basketball played on both sides. I can’t wait to play on that stage in my future!

 

Matthew is Publisher and Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He is also the Lead Pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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Pack in the Pros

Should Former NC State All-American Catcher Patrick Bailey be an NL All-Star?

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Former NC State All-American Catcher Patrick Bailey is having a great 2nd season in the Majors.

Bailey is batting .286 this season, which is a vast improvement to his .233 average as a Rookie last year. He already has 5 Home Runs in roughly half the at-bats as last season, when he hit 7. His plate discipline has improved, striking out less and walking more. Bailey is on pace to strike out around 30 times less than last year, and is 1 Walk away from tying his total from last year.

Despite not having flashy offensive numbers in 2023, Bailey made a name for himself behind the plate. He currently ranks 1st in the National League in Framing, 2nd in Putouts and 2nd in Pop Time.

Overall, he has the 3rd highest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of any Catcher in the National League.

As things currently stand, Bailey doesn’t rank in the Top-5 in All-Star voting, but it’s criminal that Sean Murphy (Braves) and J.T. Realmuto (Phillies) have so many more votes.

Last year, 3 catchers made the All-Star team, so Go Vote for Bailey!

 

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Pack in the Pros

Former NC State Running Back Ricky Person Signs with the Seattle Seahawks

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After leading the UFL in Rushing Touchdowns this past season, former NC State Running Back Ricky Person has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

Person joins former High School (Heritage High School) and College (NC State) teammate Drake Thomas (LB) in Seattle.

After rushing for 1,979 yards and 14 touchdowns at NC State, Person went undrafted, but signed as an Undrafted Free Agent with the Baltimore Ravens, but was eventually waived due to an undisclosed injury.

For the past two seasons, Person has played for the Birmingham Stallions, which was in the USFL in 2023, and the UFL this past season. In 2023, he only rushed the ball 14 times, but this past season, he rushed for 297 yards and 6 touchdowns, and also had 150 receiving yards. This year, Person was elemental in helping lead the Stallions to the USFL 2024 Championship.

 

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Pack in the Pros

Former NC State All-American SS Trea Turner Picks Up 2 Hits in Return from IL

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Former NC State All-American Shortstop Trea Turner returned from the Injured List last night, going 2 for 5 from the plate with 1 Run.

Turner has been out since early May with a hamstring strain (missing 38 games), but prior to injury, he was playing about as good as anyone in the league. He is batting .345.

As of yesterday, Turner is 2nd in the National League in All-Star voting for Shortstops, trailing only Mookie Betts, who is running away with 1st place. He has made the All-Star team twice before (2021, 2022)

Turner was a 2-time All-American at NC State. In 2012, Turner was named 3rd Team All-American by NCBWA, and in 2013 he was named 2nd Team by Collegiate Baseball, and 3rd Team by NCBWA and Baseball America.

His 113 career stolen bases at NC State are the most in school history. Turner was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 1st Round with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.

Trea is easily the best Major League batter to ever come out of NC State. Out of all the Wolfpack players to make it to the MLB, he ranks 1st in Hits (1,252), Runs (716), Doubles (236), Home Runs (152), RBI’s (519), Stolen Bases (270) and Walks (322).

 

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NC State Basketball

DJ Burns talks keys to recent weight loss during Pre-Draft Workout with Pacers

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Pack fans have been wondering how after 2 years in Raleigh, DJ Burns finally figured out how to drop weight, and keep it off. He spoke to reporters during his pre-draft workout with the Pacers.

“Playing at the pace we played today. Doing the work we did today. I probably would have left out with a full body cramp a couple months ago.”

“Keep on improving my pace. Adjusting to the level and speed I’m going to have to play at, at all times.”

“Lots of running. Lots of figuring out which foods I can no longer have, which were almost all of them that I liked. So, just finding new ones that I do like that go along with the plan.”

“This is the third (workout), and I actually travel to Milwaukee tomorrow to workout with the Bucks. And then some more stuff being confirmed that I won’t speak on just yet.”

Burns has worked out for the Lakers, Pacers and Hornets up to this point.

Plus more…

Listen to the full interview above.

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