With four home games remaining, NC State needs a win tomorrow to gain some much needed momentum to carry them through the rest of the season. As of right now the Pack stands at 12-12 overall and 2-9 in the ACC. Best case scenario the Pack rips off 7 straight and finishes 19-12 and 9-9 in the ACC, but you probably have a better chance at winning the PowerBall than State does of winning out. It has been a disappointing season to say the least, but in tomorrow’s contest versus the Demon Deacons the Pack should win.
The Demon Deacons have not had much success on the season as they stand 10-14 with a 1-11 ACC record. They are led by Devon Thomas, the power forward is averaging 16.2 points per game and 9.8 boards per game. If Thomas gets going early, NC State could be in trouble. State has to keep Thomas from getting the high energy buckets that he thrives on. He loves getting tip ins and put back dunks, these are the plays that keep him going. It will be up to Abu, Anya, and Freeman to keep him off the glass, and foul him when in doubt! Devon Thomas is a poor free throw shooter at 59%.
After Thomas the Deacons rely on 6-3 freshman Bryant Crawford. On the season he is averaging 13.3 points per game and is second only to Thomas in minutes per game (30.4). Crawford has been less than efficient inside the arc shooting 39% from the field; however, he has been lethal from beyond the arc. Shooting 42% from the three is a solid number especially considering he is a freshman. The Pack must run him off the 3 point line and force him into contested 2s.
It doesn’t take long to see why NC State and Wake Forest have been bottom dwellers this season…simply put they are both poor defensively. Wake Forest is dead last in the ACC allowing 79.4 points per game. The Pack ranks 12th at 72.5. The last time these two teams played there were a combined 151 points scored, State losing 74-77. I expect the same tomorrow, a tightly contested high scoring affair.
At this point in the season it is about pride for both teams. Neither team looks to be destined for post season play, but that doesn’t mean strides cannot be made that will pay dividends next season. Coach Mark Gottfried is not going to throw in the towel, I am sure this past week has been filled with productive practices. The main focus has to be on getting stops come tomorrow. State has proved they can score with any team, but they have not been able to stop anyone. In their last 5 games they are giving up a staggering 82.4 points per game. That is an alarming number that must be improved upon! Any team in college basketball letting up that many points will fall on the wrong side of the win/loss column more times than not.
Game time is scheduled for 12:00 o’clock at the PNC Arena and can be seen on FS South.
NC State Basketball
Two Power Forwards we think NC State will target in the transfer portal
The picture is becoming more clear for NC State fans. Today we learned that Greg Gantt will be entering the transfer portal. This comes on the heels of both Jack Clark and Ebe Dowuona entering last week. So, as of now, we know that Keatts and company must be pretty confident that they can pull some front court talent out of the portal.
With DJ Burns returning and Dusan Mahorcic set to return (questions still remain about his knee that wasn’t healing as he had hoped), the focus in the front court is going to be at power forward. I’m hearing that the staff wants to bring in a versatile forward who can stretch the defense (but still defend bigger 4s) and a bigger, more physical 4 man who can bang on the blocks when State needs some front court muscle.
Let’s take a look at who I think we should be focused on at this point.
UNC | 6’6, 210lbs | 1.4 ppg, .9 rebounds, 6 minutes per game, 33.3% from 3pt range | From Kinston, NC
Styles is might be a little short for most teams looking to bring in a 4, but he makes up for it by being well-built and pretty athletic. He was a 4 star kid coming out of high school and has a nice midrange game. He’s a longer, more athletic version of Jericole Hellems if you want a Wolfpack comparison. He has a good midrange game and can shoot the 3, but he also can play above the rim.
At UNC he just never really could get on the floor. Last year they had Bacot and Bradley Manek and this year they had Bacot and Pete Nance. UNC likes to play big, so having a big 4 who can stretch the floor is a priority. Style’s height likely kept him off the floor for UNC, however, he fits into how Keatts likes to use his 4 man. Styles is a guy NC State really tried to bring in out of high school, so he knows the program and was likely swayed by the UNC name brand more than the fit for his game. I’m told Styles was on campus this week, so it looks like NC State is certainly in the running to land him. If you’re looking for odds, I’d say the odds are pretty good that Keatts reels him in.
Louisville | 6’9, 220lbs | 9 ppg, 5 rebounds, 43.3% from the field, 41.7% from 3pt range | From Charlotte, NC
Withers is an interesting 4 man. He’s a guy who gives you length and some physicality in the paint, but he’s not a back-to-the-basket guy. In fact, he reminds me of a bigger, more forward-oriented, Dereon Seabron. Now, he’s not at polished, as fast, or as slippery as Seabron, but he attacks the same way Seabron did off the dribble. He comes in very physical, takes big, long strides, and is able to make up ground pretty quickly on the drive. Oh and he too can stretch the defense too. In fact, his 41.7% from long range wasn’t just him getting lucky on a few shots, Withers shot 96 3s this season and hit 40 of them. The one thing Keatts will need to work on with Withers is encouraging him to get downhill and press the issue on drives. He’s a good shooter and sometimes would rather pull up than take it hard to the rack, and at 6’9 State will want him getting to the rim more than not. This is a guy that can average 15 a game for the Pack, and really fills that 4 spot with size and scoring ability. Keatts will have a lot of competition for him, as UNC has also reached out. Withers is from Charlotte, so the hometown connection is there.
NC State Basketball
Clemson PG Brevin Galloway says he loves playing NC State, calls them undisciplined, says they play AAU ball
Explains how CU handled us so easily pic.twitter.com/FGAS9Bu2oT
— Red White Pod (@RedWhitePodcast) March 28, 2023
Clemson’s senior PG Brevin Galloway went in on NC State in a recent Tik Tok video, explaining that in his view, he loves playing the Wolfpack because he feels like they play out of control and are ‘just hooping’ and ‘not going to play disciplined.’
But c’mon. where does some middle-of-the-road PG who didn’t even make the tournament get off talking about the Pack like that?
Oh, he was the lead guard of the team that beat NC State 3 times by a sum total of 65 points? Oh.
I know Pack fans and especially the NC State staff might scoff at Galloway’s comments, and his delivery is pretty harsh, but I think we all know that there is some truth to his statement.
As you know, I think Keatts can end up getting it done at NC State, but the discipline and focus on the little things, the intricacies of the game, need to be cleaned up. State does play hard, but putting some reigns on this offseason would go a long way in turning a talented team into a winning team.
NC State Basketball
Fleeing Forwards! Greg Gantt enters the transfer portal, following fellow 4-man Jack Clark
I’m not sure if this was expected by most or not, but there had been chatter about Greg Gantt leaving NC State since the season ended. He’s had a rough go of it here and all signs were pointing to Keatts targeting a couple 4s in the portal.
NC State F Greg Gantt has entered the transfer portal. Grad transfer. https://t.co/tvzkjQnLFX
— Verbal Commits (@VerbalCommits) March 29, 2023
So for Gantt, the hurdles may have seemed too high. First, he needs to recover from a knee injury, then he needs to come back and compete with what might be 2 or 3 other guys for minutes at the 4. And it’s likely he was going to be asked to play the same role. A guy who isn’t really a key part of the offense, and who is being relied upon to do the dirty work under the rim.
All of that said, we’re sad to see him go. NC State played some of their best basketball with Gantt on the floor. When Clark went out Gantt and Ross stepped in and the Pack reeled off wins in 8 of their next 10 games. When Clark came back they went 4-5 down the stretch. And of NC State’s first 8 quality opponents they faced while Clark was healthy at the beginning of the season, they lost 4 of those. So when Clark was on the floor NC State was actually a below .500 team against quality non-conference + ACC opponents.
NC State best games of the season came during the stretch when Gantt and Ross were playing, and in fact, Gantt was a big part of NC State’s beat down of Virginia Tech in round 1 of the ACC tournament.
So was Gantt the key? I dont’ know about all that, but he gave NC State a physical, hard-working, hustle guy at the 4. He could guard both a strong, big PF or a PF who likes to float out to the wing. Meanwhile Clark struggled against bigger opponents who wanted to play more physical.
NC State is going to miss Gantt, even though this 2pt, 4.5 rebound stat line wasn’t all that impressive.
What this tell you though is that Keaetts is certainly about to make some frontcourt moves in the portal and I believe he’s going to make sure whoever he brings in can play as physical as Gantt did (but with a little more offense added in).
NC State Basketball
NC State’s Terquavion Smith Will Forgo His Remaining College Eligibility & Declare for NBA Draft
Well, it’s official. NC State Sophomore Terquavion Smith will forgo his remaining two years of college eligibility and officially declare for the 2023 NBA Draft.
Here’s what Smith had to say to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony regarding his decision.
“I’m forgoing my college eligibility and going all the way in,” Smith said. “I’m thankful for everything the NC State coaching staff and fans have done for me. This is the right decision for me to take care of my family.”
“I showed a lot of different things this year,” Smith said. “Teams wanted to see me be more of a point guard, making the right play, making the right decisions. They wanted to see me improve my finishing, and I increased that. I showed I can be a leader.”
“I improved my grades. I’m a year closer to getting my degree now. You only get one chance to be a college student and get that college vibe. There was no rush for me. I’m ready to contribute to an NBA team now.”
“I’m feeling good about everything now,” Smith said. “I came back to do what I needed to do. I feel like I did everything the right way. I know what’s coming now in the pre-draft process because I’ve been there already and know what to expect. I’ll be a lot more confident in myself now. It’s going to be a straight grind.” (ESPN)
Smith earned 2nd Team All-ACC honors this year, averaging 17.9 points and 4.1 assists per game.
He currently ranks 30th on ESPN’s Top-100 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings. In most NBA Mock Drafts, Smith is projected as a late first round pick.
Smith’s career scoring average of 17.1 ranks 8th in school history. He made 187 three point shots in two seasons, ranking 8th all-time in NC State history. His 96 made three-pointers last year are the most ever by a Freshman in school history, and his 91 made three-pointers made this year are the most ever by a Sophomore.
If Smith goes on to be taken in the 1st round of the 2023 NBA Draft, it will be the first person to do so from NC State since Dennis Smith Jr. was taken 9th overall in 2017. If Smith is taken in the first round, the would become the 17th player in school history to do so.