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Standing 6’11” with a 7’5″ wingspan, Udoka Azubuike is an absolute force in the paint.  Not only is he long, but he is powerfully built, weighing 270 pounds with broad shoulders.  When I think of Udoka one word comes to mind, and that word is destruction. Udoka plays with a nasty streak as he tries to overpower anyone in his path, including the goal.  Few players have his combination of size and motor.  One of the most impressive things about Udoka are his hands.  Most big men struggle catching bounce passes or catching the ball on the move.  However, Udoka is fluid in catching the ball.  Lets take a look at how his skills would mesh with NC State and Gottfried’s system.

Offensively

The high post offense is a sytem made for Azubuike.  A trademark of the high post is the ducking big man on the low block.  The type of player that excels in this role is a wide body that seals off the paint and is quick getting the ball to the basket.  Azubuike fits this description.  He is long and wide with the explosion to finish quickly.  Checkout Udoka’s finishes in the video below:

Notice how for the most part he catches the ball and keeps it high, and then explodes to the rim.  One thing that I like is that I did not see him dribbling the ball in traffic but once in the video.  A major problem for big men is that they bring the ball down, which allows smaller defenders to tie them up.  Also we see that Udoka grabs an offensive rebound, gathers, and then finishes with authority with no wasted time putting the ball on the deck.

Gottfried would love to have a guy like Udoka to feed from the high post.  It would also be a huge advantage to have Tim setting screens along the baseline to free up the guards as they look to get space in NC State’s corner wrinkle.  Azubuike would thrive at NC State in the high post offense.

Defensively

Picture a season where NC State would have BeeJay Anya and Udoka Azubuike patrolling the paint.  It would be a beautiful thing.  Gottfried could deploy some serious pressure on the perimeter if he knew he had both Anya and Udoka protecting the rim.  The guards and forwards could afford to gamble more if they had the likes of Udoka and Anya, which would result in a ton of turnovers and points off of them.  The team could resemble a track team having the likes of the Twins, Dennis Smith, Torin Dorn, Terry Henderson, and potentially Cat Barber.

Udoka is already solid on coming over from the help-side to erase shots, but needs to improve on his straight up man-to-man post defense.  He sometimes allows his man too much freedom to catch the ball deep knowing that he has such an advantage in size to overcome the disadvantage.  This will not be the case in college, as he will have to work harder at keeping his man from catching the ball with two feet in the paint.  If he allows his man to get that position in the ACC it will result in a foul or a dunk more often than not.

Intangibles

One thing I love about Udoka is the fact that he brings a level of nastiness to the floor.  He plays with a scowl and isn’t afraid to stare down an opposing player after he dismantles him either offensively or defensively.  This may rub some people the wrong way, but in my opinion it is a good thing.  Udoka doesn’t have a bad attitude towards his teammates, coaches, or the officials.  He instead uses his intensity to intimidate his opponents.  Another small thing that gets overlooked with big men is how aware they are in respect to their position.  For example, some big men will drop step themselves behind the backboard or leave themselves a terrible angle to score.  This doesn’t appear to be a problem for Azubuike, as he consistently gives himself enough room to drop step to a spot that gives him a good opportunity to flush it or shoot a soft jump hook.  This awareness will help smooth his transition to the college game.

Improvement

Looking at Azubuike one thing that he will have to adjust to is playing against competition that is as strong and big as he is.  He will not be able to rely on his size alone once he reaches college, which means that he will have work hard on cleaning up his footwork and perfecting counter moves.  If someone takes away his left shoulder can he counter? I am not sure he is that skilled yet.  I haven’t seen much evidence on tape that shows that he can.  However, the beauty of this is that he can be coached and has loads of upside given his talent and size.

Summary

Big men of Udoka’s class don’t come along but every so often.  Coach Gottfried loves to have big men and it is important that any college program have depth at the center position.  Basketball may be trending away from big men, but Azubuike is the type of player who can play in an uptempo system.  A rim protector can clean up a lot of mistakes for a team defensively and can aid an uptempo attack by allowing the perimeter to play aggressively to force turnovers.  If Coach Gottfried can get Udoka to commit it would be a dream front court that would be filled with size and skill.  No one in the country would rival the Pack when it comes to depth and versatility in the front court.  This past weekend Udoka had a great visit, as he was hanging with Dennis Smith and Rawle Alkins.  Stay tuned to see if Gottfried can pull off a recruiting class for the ages.

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Wolfer96
Wolfer96
8 years ago

PackJunky I would have said the same about BJ before I saw the latest pic of him. The kid lost a ton of weight and actually looks athletic now. He’s not the same kid that showed up 60 pounds overweight his freshman year. If BJ can show hustle and play hard for 30 minutes a game without fouling out I really think he has a good chance at playing his way into the 1st round. He has the skills but hasn’t been able to showcase them due to his weight. Now that the weight is gone I think we’ll be… Read more »

PackEsquire
PackEsquire
8 years ago

Dont want Azubuike, need Azubuike and needed him yesterday

PackJunky
PackJunky
8 years ago

Hopefully we get him. I think we will really need him in 16. I have a hard time believing we will have the dream front court that you are hoping for. I expect either BJ or Abu or both will go pro after this year. If Abu has the breakout year that we need from him, he could position himself to be a first rounder. I doubt BJ can do the same, but that has never stopped an NC State player from leaving early when they want to go, and rumor has it BJ has already told the coaches this… Read more »

Basketball Recruiting

4-Star G/F Bryce Heard Begins His NC State Official Visit Today

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4-Star 2025 Guard/Forward Bryce Heard (6’5″/170) will begin his Official Visit at NC State today.

247Sports, ESPN and Rivals all rank Heard as a 4-Star prospect. ESPN ranks him as the #92 overall player nationally in the 2025 recruiting class. 247Sports ranks him as the #16 Combo Guard in the class, and they also rank him as the #2 player in the state of Illinois.

As a Junior this past season at Homewood-Flossmoor (Chicago, Illinois), Heard averaged 19 point, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.

NC State offered Heard back on September 22nd last Fall, and he also holds offers from Oklahoma St., Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Illinois, Georgetown, Arizona St., St. John’s, Kansas St., USC, Boston College, SMU, Xavier, Iowa, BYU and others.

 

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Basketball Recruiting

NC State Offers 4-Star Guard Davion Hannah

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NC State has offered a scholarship to 4-Star 2025 Guard Davion Hannah (6’5″/180).

Hannah is right on the cusp of being a 5-star prospect. 247Sports ranks him as the #27 overall player nationally in the 2025 recruiting class, the #4 Combo Guard, and the #1 player in the state of Wisconsin.

On top of the offer from NC State, he also holds offers from Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Michigan St., Marquette, Oregon, Arizona St., Mississippi St., LSU, Wake Forest, Iowa, Auburn, Xavier, Alabama, Seton Hall, Creighton, Pitt and others.

This past season as a Junior at Nicolet High School (Glendale, Wisconsin), Hannah averaged 18.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. He also just participated in the NBA Top 100 camp, and was one of the standouts.

 

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Basketball Recruiting

Pack fans going to love the addition of 2025 4-star SG RJ Greer

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As you’ve probably heard, Top-100 SG, RJ Greer, announced his commitment to NC State yesterday.

The 2025, 6’4 guard is exactly the piece that NC State fans have been clamoring for Keatts to add.

Greer is 6’4 (and maybe still growing), is starting to fill out his frame, and is a pure shooter with great form, high IQ and comes from a winning program. This past year he led his HS team to the D2 State Title, earning a bunch of accolades along the way. Adding to that, Greer’s father is Ricardo Greer, former Pitt forward who averaged 15ppg over his college career.

RJ Greer was named District 15 Underclassman of the year, D2 All Southwest Ohio First Team, and All Ohio Second Team. He was recruited heavily by Cincinnati, Florda and Dayton, but chose NC State thanks to the freedom Keatts gives his guards.

Greer is an elite spot shooter, but he’s also able to create for himself on occasion. He’s the most ‘Scott Wood’ recruit NC State has landed since the prolific 3-pt shooter left the Pack in 2013.

With Greer and Paul McNeil (who will be a sophomore when Greer arrives), NC State will have some tall, long, dead-eye shooters roaming around the preimeter next season, and that’s something NC State fans have been very vocal about wanting over the past 10 years.

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Basketball Recruiting

4-Star Shooting Guard RJ Greer Commits to NC State!

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NC State just landed their 1st Men’s Basketball commitment of the 2025 recruiting class, with 4-Star Shooting Guard RJ Greer (6’4″/170) announcing his verbal commitment this afternoon.

 

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Greer’s announcement is coming off of his Official Visit to Raleigh this past weekend. He chose to Run with the Wolfpack over a Top-4 that included NC State, Penn State, Cincinnati and the NBL.

This past season, Greer led his Archbishop Alter (Dayton, Ohio) to the state championship, and earned 2nd Team All-State honors. Greer averaged 16 points per game as a Junior.

247Sports ranks Greer as the #100 overall player nationally in the 2025 recruiting class, and the #3 player in the state of Ohio.

 

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