It was an unusual game from the perspective that State pulled out the victory despite Cat Barber not reaching double figures on the day. It was the trio of Maverick Rowan, Caleb Martin, and Malik Abu that carried the Wolfpack to victory. Rowan scored 20 points, pouring in 17 in the second half. He came up with big answers on the offensive end as Cat Barber was bottled up by the Tigers. It was quickly apparent that Rowan was in the zone when he hit a tough step back three pointer, he then went on to pull an arrow out and acted like he was an archer. I’ve seen lots of animations after made three pointers, but an archer was a first.
The Tigers were simply out hustled by an enthusiastic Wolfpack team, NC State pounded them on the glass as they held the advantage 43-30. Malik Abu turned in another monster double double scoring 17 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, 8 offensive. Not to be overlooked was Caleb Martin, scoring 16 points off the bench and grabbing 6 rebounds. I have been pleased with his attitude and mindset coming off the bench. He has been solid at providing a lift in his 6th man role.
It was a good win for NC State over a team that was looking to notch their 10th ACC win on the season. Blossomgame was better than advertised as he was a mismatch nightmare for Gottfried, on the day he finished with 33 points. The Pack just didn’t have an answer as they threw Freeman, Abu, and Cody Martin on him. Freeman and Abu were too slow and Cody was too small. Hats off to Blossomgame on the great game, luckily it wasn’t enough.
The Wolfpack will take the court again this Wednesday as they host UNC. The Pack will need to have Barber snap out of his mini two game slump and have his teammates play like they did yesterday. I never like to see a player struggle but State proved they have talent beyond Cat, it’s just a question of will they show up?
Check out the ACC Digital Networks highlights of yesterday’s game below:
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.
It continues to make me wonder exactly how close to “something special” is this team. In a year or two when the twins are firing on all cylinders and our senior bigs have better developed, will we find ourselves saying “man, what is these guys were on that 2016 team with Cat?”