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After a helicopter visit from NC State head coach Mark Gottfried and Assistant Coach Orlando Early on the first day of the recruiting period on Wednesday, 5-star 2016 Point Guard Dennis Smith Jr. didn’t waste any time, committing to the Wolfpack the very next night.

“It was the icing on the cake” said Smith.

Obviously, Smith didn’t commit to NC State simply because a coach showed up on Trinity Christian School’s football field in a helicopter.

“What most people know is that I grew up an NC State fan.  Most of the other members of my family and I love NC State and love to watch them play,” said Smith. “For them to recruit me as hard as they did, they were the 1st high major school to offer me, Coach Gottfried was the only head coach to be at every single one of my games this season.  It meant a lot.  They were so loyal to me.  They really wanted me to come in and be the guy for them.”

NC State’s loyalty to Smith began two years ago, and it was when Trinity made their way up to Raleigh after Christmas for the Annual HighSchoolOT Invitational that things got really serious.

“I was in contact with NC State the start of my Sophomore year,” said Smith.  “I had a pretty good summer after my 9th grade year.  I played in the HighSchoolOT Holiday Invitational that year, and I had a great tournament all three games, and he reached out with an offer after my second game.”

Getting the best talent in the state of North Carolina to stay in the state of North Carolina is a goal of the Wolfpack coaching staff, and it worked out perfectly, because it was important for Smith to stay in state.

“Staying close to home was key for me.  To have my family come out to every game that I play in state is going to mean a lot,” said Smith.  “There’s going to be a lot of support coming from Fayetteville to Raleigh.”

Smith has a lot of Fayetteville pride, and he told me that there is no place that he’d rather be from.  Being from “The “Ville” is one of the reasons that he plays with a chip on his shoulder.  It’s hard to believe, but the #4 overall player in the 2016 recruiting class still has an underdog mentality that has never left him.

“Fayetteville is kind of country down here,” said Smith. “I went out and played with all my family when I was younger, and they didn’t treat me like I was anyone special.  I had to go out there and play my hardest every time.  Ain’t nothing really changed.”

NC State’s underdog status was an appealing aspect in joining the Wolfpack.  Every underdog has a chip on their shoulder to reach the top, and that’s Smith’s singular goal when he arrives in Raleigh.

“I want to help NC State get on the level of those other schools,” said Smith. “Out of the 6 schools that I had, I would probably say that NC State is the underdog out of all of them, and that’s the mentality that I’ve had my whole life.  I’m trying to go in and win, which the coaches want as well.”

When a recruit commits to a school, they move from being the recruit, to the recruiter.  It’s a dream come true for the NC State coaching staff to have Smith commit this early, because now they have the chance to build around a player that the best players in the country want to play with.  Smith began recruiting right after he committed, and it isn’t a shock who he called.

“I talked to the coaches about it, and they asked me which players I liked, and I asked them which guys they liked,” said Smith. “There are certain players that we all agreed on.  One of them is definitely Bam.  He was the first person I reached out to after I committed.  It’s kind of a mutual agreement between me and the coaches.”

Smith said that the 3 main guys that he and the coaching staff are trying to get to run with the Wolfpack are Power Forward Bam Adebayo, Center Udoka Azubuike, and Combo Guard De’Aaron Fox.

“I’ve known Bam since I was in 7th grade.  We’ve known each other for a long time and have been playing together for a long time.  De’Aaron Fox and I would be scary man.  We played together at Adidas Nations last year.  Our team went undefeated and we played great together.  I think it would work really well,” said Smith. “Udoka Azubuike was on my team at Adidas Nations this year.  We were playing, and I gave him a lot of touches.  We were productive in the pick and roll.  I threw him a couple of lobs on the fast break.  He liked playing with me, and I liked playing with him, so we started talking.  That guy is a power house.”

In terms of visiting NC State prior to his commitment, Smith was close to breaking some sort of record on unofficial visits.  The result is a strong relationship with his future teammates before he even steps on campus in Raleigh.  It also gives him a decent pulse of what the Wolfpack might look like in 2015-16, and he thinks the outlook is good.

“It’s great.  I know every guy on that team, and every guy knows me.  I’ve got respect for those guys on and off the court, and it’s mutual back this way.  NC State is looking great this year.  Cat has gotten a lot better.  I played with the whole team in pick-up a couple of times, and they’ve made some strides,” said Smith. “I think someone that will surprise some people is Caleb Martin.  I think Cat, Malik, and Terry Henderson are also going to go out there and do their thing.  I’ve been playing against Terry since I was in middle school.”

What Gottfried did with his guards last season didn’t go unnoticed by Smith.  He watched how the other teams in his Top 6 (Kentucky, Louisville, UNC, Duke, Wake Forest) used their guards, and the freedom that the Wolfpack guards played with tipped the hat in their favor.

“I like that he lets his guards play.  I watched them last year, as well as watching the other programs, and I liked the way he let Cat Barber and Trevor Lacey just play their games,” said Smith. “They flourished last year.  I think it will be the same thing when I get there.”

Smith’s commitment looks to possibly be the beginning of a special 2016 recruiting class, and an especially special 2016-17 season for NC State basketball.

Matthew is Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He writes for all sports, with a focus on football and recruiting, and is in charge of business strategy. He is an NC State alum who majored in business. Matthew is also the lead pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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Basketball Recruiting

2025 4-Star SF Jackson Keith was at the NC State vs. UNC Game



Earlier today, I mentioned Wolfpack prospects 4-Star 2025 Power Forward Sadiq White Jr., 4-Star 2025 Point Guard Jordan Lowery, and 2026 Point Guard Kobe Edwards would be visiting for the NC State vs. UNC game.

4-Star 2025 Small Forward Jackson Keith (6’5″/175) was also in attendance.

Keith is a consensus 4-star prospect in the 2025 recruiting class, with Rivals ranking him as the #53 overall player in the class. The Southern High (Durham, NC) standout is ranked as the #2 player in the state of North Carolina in the 2025 class by ESPN.

Keith holds offers from NC State, Wake Forest, Mississippi St., Illinois, SMU, Virginia Tech, LSU and others.

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Basketball Recruiting

NC State Recruits that Will Be in Attendance for the UNC Game Tonight



NC State (11-3) will host #7 UNC (11-3) tonight in PNC Arena, and they also will be hosting a couple of recruiting prospects.

4-Star 2025 Power Forward Sadiq White Jr. and 4-Star 2025 Point Guard Jordan Lowery both confirmed with me that they will be in attendance.

White, who plays for Myers Park (Charlotte) is the consensus #1 player in the state of North Carolina in the 2025 recruiting class, and he’s 4 spots away from being a 5-star prospect according to ON3. Lowery plays for Winston-Salem Christian School, and is ranked as the #7 overall player in the state of North Carolina in the 2025 recruiting class according to 247Sports.

White holds offers from NC State, South Carolina, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, LSU, FSU, Illinois, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Georgetown, Ohio State and others. Lowery holds offers from NC State, TCU, Virginia Tech, SMU, Oklahoma St., Kansas St. St. Louis and others.

2026 Point Guard Kobe Edwards also told me he will be in attendance.

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Basketball Recruiting

NC State is 1 of the Schools 4-Star PG Kayden Mingo is Hearing from the Most



4-Star 2025 Point Guard Kayden Mingo (6’1″/160) stated that NC State is one of the schools most frequently reaching out to him, along with Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Cal and Old Dominion.

Despite the Wolfpack’s interest in Mingo, they haven’t offered him yet. Mingo currently holds offers from Cal, Penn State, Saint Louis, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Rivals and ESPN both rank Mingo as a 4-Star prospect, with Rivals ranking him as the #70 overall player nationally in the 2025 recruiting class.

Mingo plays for Long Island Lutheran in New York, which is one of the top teams in the country. He is currently the Nike EYBL Scholastic’s leading scorer (20ppg).


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Basketball Recruiting

Highlights of NC State 2024 Signee Paul McNeil from the John Wall Holiday Invitational



NC State 2024 signee Paul McNeil Jr. showcased his talent at the 2023 John Wall Holiday Invitational at the end of the year. Below are highlights from his first two games.

In Richmond’s 77-62 win over Jordan in their first game of the invitational, McNeil had 27 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.

In Game 2, McNeil had 24 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists in Richmond’s 53-56 loss to Northwood.

In Game 3, McNeil had 21 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in Richmond’s 68-84 loss to Cannon. I couldn’t find any highlights from this particular game.

Through 11 games this season, McNeil is averaging 29.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. He is shooting 52% from the field and 35% from three.


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