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.
WATCH: NC State Signee Paul McNeil Drops 50 & 17 Against First Flight
NC State 2024 4-star signee Paul McNeil had himself a night, posting an insane double-double, scoring 50 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in Richmond County’s 90-45 dismantling of First Flight last night.
McNeil was 21 of 32 from the field, and 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. Let’s not forget to note that he also led his team in assists, with 4.
ESPN ranks McNeil as the #57 overall player nationally in the 2024 recruiting class, and ON3 ranks him as the #6 player in the state of North Carolina.
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2024 NC State Commit Trey Parker Finishes 2nd in OTE Dunk Contest
Dunk contests don’t really mean anything, but Trey Parker, NC State’s 2024 shooting guard commit makes them pretty entertaining.
Just last week he finished 2nd in the OTE Dunk Contest (video above), after winning it last year with this dunk over two 7-footers.
— Overtime (@overtime) January 28, 2023
Parker was supposed to be a freshman this year at NC State, but he reclassified into the 2024 class, meaning if all goes according to plan, he’ll be here next year.
And if you think this kid is just about dunking, then you missed his performance last year against the #1 ranked PG Robert Dillingham, where he dropped 18 pts and dished out 4 assists in the win. We had an in-depth write-up on the game right after it happened. Check it out.
While the focus should be on this years team, it’s never too early to get excited about a commit that’s putting together highlight reels like this.
NC State Hosted 3 Basketball Recruits this Past Weekend
The NC State Men’s Basketball team hosted 3 recruits this past weekend: 4-Star 2025 Point Guard Jordan Lowery, 4-Star 2025 Small Forward AJ White and 3-Star 2024 Center Chol Machot.
I confirmed with all three players that they were on NC State’s campus for an unofficial visit.
On September 12, NC State offered 4-Star 2025 Point Guard Jordan Lowery (6’1″/175) out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He already holds offers from TCU, SMU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, St. Louis, Wichita St, ECU and Virginia Tech. Rivals ranks Lowery as the #110 overall player nationally, and ON3 ranks him as the #9 player in the state of North Carolina. Lowery was also in for an unofficial visit to NC State earlier in September as well.
The Wolfpack coaches were in to visit 4-Star 2025 Small Forward AJ White (6’8″/180) out of Charlotte, North Carolina in the middle of September. Rivals ranks White as the #28 overall player nationally in 2025, and he is the consensus #1 player in the state. White holds offers from NC State, South Carolina, Cincy, Texas, Syracuse, Georgia, Texas A&M, Wake Forest, Mississippi St., LSU, FSU, Illinois, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgetown, Ohio St. and others.
Kendre Harrison Breaks Down What it Means to be Offered by NC State in 2 Sports
NC State is trying to reel in a Legacy Recruit in 2026 Tight End/Power Forward Kendre Harrison. Harrison is the nephew of former Wolfpack guard, C.C. Harrison.
Harrison is a unicorn. The young sensation out of Reidsville High School (Reidsville, NC), is a 4-star prospect in both football and basketball. In fact, he’s on track to be a 5-star prospect in both sports, which is unheard of.
In regards to football, Harrison is the #5 overall player nationally in the 2026 class according to 247Sports, and the #1 player in the state of North Carolina (Reidsville High School). In basketball, he ranks 20th overall nationally according to ESPN, the #5 Power Forward, and the #1 player in the state of North Carolina.
The #1 player in the state of North Carolina in both sports in 2026.
NC State offered him in football back in January, and he was offered by the basketball team back on September 16th.
I checked in with Harrison to see what it meant to him to be offered in both football and basketball by NC State, and what it was like to visit a few weeks back for the VMI game and watch the basketball team practice.
“It means a lot to be offered in both sports, knowing I can make a difference in the program.”
Harrison made it clear that he intends to play both sports at the next level. He doesn’t find it to be a balancing act at all, playing both basketball and football.
I just have to remember how bad I want it and what my end goal is. I have to remember that I’m doing this for my mom and family.
Harrison enjoyed every aspect of his time on NC State’s campus a few weeks back.
It was a great experience. I loved how the coaches coached basketball and football. I just loved everything about the visit.
Uncle C.C. is a hero of Kendre’s, and he has learned so much from him, on the court, and off the court.
He has taught me a lot of things about basketball and outside of basketball, especially throughout my recruitment process.