What is going on with the Men’s Basketball program? This offseason has been tumultuous even by NC State standards. Some of the moves were foreseen, while others have been puzzling to say the least. Lets look at some of the big headlines and dig a little deeper as to what is happening…
Coach Moxley taking a different position in the program…
This move makes perfect sense, Coach Moxley had serious health issues last offseason and was not really capable physically to handle the demands needed for an assistant coach. His whole demeanor was different on the sidelines, and I am sure that this affected him mentally. I will be the first to say that Coach Moxley is one of fiercest competitors that I have ever been around. He was fiery and intense to a point where you either stepped up or stepped out. The players always found a little extra for Rob Moxley in his drills. I believe he will be a vital asset to the Pack in his new role as Director of Player Personnel. In this role he will help in player development and in setting up on campus recruiting visits. His knowledge and experience will be utilized in this position.
Cody and Caleb Martin transferring…
This may of seemed like a shock for many NC State fans, and was probably frustrating. Many fans echoed the same story, “Gottfried cannot keep players.” While it is troubling it seems like the Martins wanted a guaranteed minutes allotment for next season. Mark Gottfried cannot guarantee minutes for any player, they determine their minutes through their work ethic and play on the court. Sorry but the Martins had some good moments but by and large they were not up to the challenge. Both struggled defensively and offensively. They had their opportunity this season to earn their stripes and didn’t. I believe that there was room for one Martin, but not two, especially considering they play the same position. Now I applaud Coach G for sticking to his guns and not giving in to demands or outside pressures. It would of been nice to have the added depth but if they were expecting 30 minutes apiece then that was not going to work.
Cat Barber going pro…
This was expected and the staff did a great job at covering themselves for this by landing Dennis Smith Jr. NC State also has Terry Henderson, Torn Dorn, and Maverick Rowan to play the perimeter. Coach Gottfried shouldn’t be too concerned about his perimeter play this season. Sure a back-up point guard would be nice, but both Henderson and Dorn are more than capable of filling that void in spot situations.
Coach Lutz moves into a new role…
If Lutz would have just moved into this role it would of been understood, but he has had his name tossed around for potential Head Coaching jobs, and the same day he accepted the new role he was linked to a move to Georgia Tech. It was a whirlwind of rumors that lead to him staying at NC State, albeit in a different role. On the flip side NC State losses a great basketball mind on the staff, but at age 58 Lutz was not very active in recruiting. This really left the Pack shorthanded on the recruiting trail as Moxley was still recovering. The silver lining to this move is that Lutz will be a great tool for NC State moving forward in his administration role and State hires another coach that will be a good recruiter.
Hiring Butch Pierre…
Gottfried went with a proven commodity as he hired former Oklahoma State Associate Head Coach Butch Pierre. Pierre has been around the college landscape his whole career and will be a great assistant under Gottfried. It is noted that Pierre is one of the top recruiters in college basketball and has a keen defensive mindset. Oklahoma State finished 3rd in points allowed per game in the Big 12 a season ago. Hopefully Pierre can help implement some new defensive schemes to alleviate the porous defense the Pack have employed the past few seasons.
Hiring Heath Schroyer…
To replace Lutz, Mark Gottfried hired Heath Schroyer former head coach at UT Martin. On the surface I am sure many like myself were less than excited about the hire, but upon more research it seems that Schroyer could be an excellent fit for the Pack. In his first season at UT Martin he had the biggest turnaround in wins for a first year head coach that year, taking a team that only won 8 games prior to his arrival and winning 21 games in his first year. That is a big improvement regardless of competition level. Not only was he successful as the head coach but he was a great assistant at UNLV. In his three seasons with the Runnin’ Rebels, Schroyer helped the program win 71 games, 7 wins over ranked opponents, two top 10 recruiting classes, and helped land a future #1 overall pick in the NBA; Anthony Bennett.
Another side note on Schroyer is he is from Maryland and went to high school at DeMatha High School, where he played for Morgan Wootten, whose 1,274 wins as a head coach are the second most in the history of basketball at any level. So Schroyer has plenty of experience and recruiting connections across the country!
Another reason why Gottfried mentioned why he wanted Schroyer is because he is a great in-game coach. This will help with the loss of Lutz who was utilized for his in-game coaching. NC State could benefit from the new voices around the program. Hopefully both Schroyer and Pierre can bring in some new ideas that will help NC State in getting back to the NCAA Tournament and challenge for the ACC.
Malik Abu transferring? Or going to the NBA?…Or neither?
The report by Jeff Goodman of ESPN was a shocker to say the least, I thought Abu would test the NBA and find out he is not ready, then come back to State and have a solid Junior campaign. I still cannot understand why Abu would rather transfer than play for State next season. At State he will be the key player in the post, and would have plenty of touches. He will be playing along side Dennis Smith Jr., who is widely regarded as a program changing point guard. Smith is more than willing to distribute and is a great floor leader. He is a winner! Not only would Abu have a great point guard but he will have Terry Henderson and Torn Dorn. All the scouting reports on these two suggest that they will be solid contributors who bring versatility on offense and defense. Then throw in the fact that Maverick Rowan will be improved gives State a chance to have some real balance on the offensive end.
If Abu is not in Red & White come next season, the Pack will be against the 8 ball once more. Abu should be a walking double-double next season and could really make a name for himself. Whoever is trying to steer Abu away from the Pack would be doing him a huge disservice. Hopefully Abu can look at the positives and recognize that NC State offers him the best chance at succeeding!
I am curious am I in the wrong at thinking Abu should stay? Being completely unbiased I still believe that State is the best option for him. As far as the other changes, I think it can be a positive that some new coaches are in tow, nothing against the former coaches, but sometimes new perspectives are needed.
How does Wolfpack nation feel about the state of the Men’s Basketball program? I am concerned as well about the turnover in players and would like to see improvements defensively, but I do not think Gottfried deserves to be fired. He has done some great things with our program, but the rest of this offseason and next season could make or break Coach Gottfried.
NC State Basketball
UNC Transfer Dontrez Styles Expected to Visit NC State Soon
UNC Guard/Forward Transfer Dontrez Styles (6’6″/210) is expected to be visiting NC State soon. According to a source, he was expected to take an unofficial visit tomorrow, but it has been rescheduled to Monday.
Styles entered the Transfer Portal on March 17th.
Over the past two seasons, Styles has seen limited action for the Tar Heels, averaging 5.9 minutes in 45 total games (15 this season).
Styles is no stranger to NC State. He played high school for Kinston (Kinston, NC), and was offered by Kevin Keatts. Styles was a consensus 4-Star prospect coming out of High School. 247Sports ranked him as the #62 overall player nationally in the 2021 recruiting class, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina.
ON3 ranks Styles as the #21 player currently in the Transfer Portal.
NC State Basketball
All-AAC Temple Transfer Damian Dunn Visiting NC State this Weekend
According to a source, Temple All-AAC Transfer Shooting Guard Damian Dunn (6’5″/195) was expected to be at NC State today on an unofficial visit.
Dunn entered the Transfer Portal on March 20th.
— Damian Dunn 🇦🇸 (@Dam1anKD) March 20, 2023
Dunn averaged 15.3 points per game this season, earning 3rd Team All-AAC honors. He shot 41.1% from the field this season, and 34.8% from three-point land.
In 2021-22, he led the Owls in scoring (14.9), and earned 2nd Team All-AAC honors.
Dunn originally is from Kinston, North Carolina, but played his Senior season of High School for Meadowcreek in Georgia, finishing his high school career as a 3-star prospect.
With the almost guaranteed loss of Terquavion Smith, NC State will be in need for a dynamic scorer, and Dunn has proven that he can do just that at the collegiate level.
Currently, Dunn is the 16th ranked player in the Transfer Portal according to ON3.
Dunn is a Redshirt Sophomore this season, with 2 years of eligibility remaining.
NC State Basketball
NC State’s Jack Clark Enters Transfer Portal
NC State Forward Jack Clark has entered the Transfer Portal.
NC State G Jack Clark has entered the transfer portal. Grad transfer. https://t.co/NQ6vpv4XPL
— Verbal Commits (@VerbalCommits) March 24, 2023
I heard from a source that it was close to 50/50 whether Clark would return to NC State next year for his final year of eligibility.
Clark started in 17 of the 23 games that he played in for the Wolfpack this season, averaging 9.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Clark led the Wolfpack on rebounding in 22-23.
When it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t be shocked to see NC State pull in 6 players from the Transfer Portal when all the dust settles.
Brace yourself for the ride.
NC State Basketball
A few Point Guards we think NC State will target in the transfer portal
As stated yesterday, NC State lost Ebe Dowuona and might lose a couple more guys to the portal eventually. They also are very likely to keep their core guys aside from Terquavion Smith who is almost surely headed to the NBA.
The Pack has a few glaring needs for next season. They need a starting PG, they need a starting SG and they need a 4/5 guy that can be the bruiser option at the 4 against bigger, stronger teams, and also a guy who can slot in as a backup behind Burns if Mahorcic’s knee doesn’t get back to full strength. Those are the direct needs at this moment, however, based on what guys on the current roster do, there might end up being other needs. That said, we’d going to focus on the needs of today.
There is always the case that transfers can via the portal with no prior connection to the team. That means they aren’t local kids and they don’t have a prior relationship with the coaching staff. While that is possible, it’s not usually how this plays out. What usually happens is a kid wants to come closer to home, or they have some prior relationship with the staff (sometimes both).
So right now we’re going to limit our focus to a few guys that are in the portal and either local or have a prior relationship with the staff. We’re also going to limit the discussion in this piece to just Point Guards.
What is a ‘Keatts’ Point Guard?
NC State runs their offense off of an initial high pick and roll, like many college teams today. That means they need a playmaking PG. Now, a playmaking PG doesn’t mean a guy who just puts up a ton of points (although that is what Joiner was for the Pack last season), but it could also mean a guy who can score but also get his team involved.
Remember, the high pick and roll is not designed to get a PG open shots. Sure, that is one option, but if you have a good PG coming off that high screen, they have 3 real options. Shoot it, pass to the roll guy/pop guy, or draw help and kick out to the corners. If you have a guy who can do all of these things well, then the high pick and roll is nearly unguardable. However, if you have a guy who only does one of those things, the high pick-and-roll looks pretty stagnant and one-dimensional.
Right now, Keatts is constantly criticized for his offensive system, and based on his personnel and how the offense ran last season, I get it. But with a pass-first PG (who can also score), this offense could be really efficient. I think for the sake of the team and the sake of his job, Keatts would be smart to prioritize a PG who is a little more pass-oriented and creates a little more havoc off that screen (meaning he keeps his dribble alive on the drive and probes, not to score necessarily, but to bait the defense to get out of position.)
So, what would you say Keatts’ ideal PG looks like?
Well, we don’t really know. His first two recruited were Lavar Batts and Braxton Beverly, both taken in his first year and both kind of out of desperation. Then he landed Jalen Lecque, who was a 6’4 elite athlete PG, who opted to skip college and go to the NBA. Then he brought on Cam Hayes and Shakeel Moore. Moore was a late addition, who I believe was taken to entice teammate Josh Hall to come to NC State (Hall also skipped college to go to the NBA after committing to State). Hayes, however, was a Keatts guy and Hayes was a 6’2, 185lb combo guard who was known as a shooter and good defender (he ended up being not much of either at NC State unfortunately). Then he brought on Breon Pass, a 6-foot guard who has given State some good minutes the past couple of years, but doesn’t look quite ready to take over as a starter. Pass was known as a good scorer at a smaller NC school, and a very good defender. So far his defense has panned out but not as much scoring as we expected. Next there was LJ Thomas last year. He’s a bigger 6’2 190lb PG. Not quite as quick but more physical. Not as much of a playmaker, but more of a scorer. Then Keatts brought in Joiner this year, a 6’1 scoring threat who never averaged more than 2.3 assists per game before coming to Raleigh.
So, to us, this is Keatts biggest flaw during his NC State tenure. He has an offense built around having an elite PG, and he really hasn’t decided what an elite PG in his system looks like. The best he’s brought in was Joiner, but the offense ended up being a lot of isolation and one on one play. To really reach the next level, Keatts needs to find a PG who is a playmaker and passer, one who can defend and then pair him with an elite scoring guard.
Who is out there right now that we should keep an eye on?
Northern Arizona | 5’11, 175lbs | 18ppg, 2.5 assists, 40% from 3pt range | From Walkerton, NC
Cone started his career off at Virginia Tech. He was a 3 star kid who was super quick, and more of a scorer than a playmaker. He had offers from VT, Tennessee and Baylor, but that was really it. NC State was involved a little bit here but never given an offer.
He had decent stats at VT, but really came into his own when he transferred to Northern Arizona. Obviously, this is weaker conference, but he had 20pts, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists against Michigan State, 17 points and 6 boards against Arizona State. He did get shut down against Texas, scoring just 6 points and turning the ball over 5 times, but this is a guy who had games of 45pts, 38 pts, and 29pts. He’s super quick and really a good shooter. He’s a less physical version of Jarkell Joiner if you ask me. So maybe Keatts sees this as a decent fit, but in my opinion, you need to target a guy who is more interested in getting his teammates involved (but I guess that depends on your ability to lock down an elite scoring 2 guard). I’m also concerned about his 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. You want your lead guard to be better than that.
Kansas | 6’1, 190lbs | 2 ppg, 1.3 assists, 30% from 3pt range | From Durham, NC
Pettiford is a stout, physical guard who can defend, but really hasn’t shown much on the offensive end. That said, he’s had a case of the injury bug during his two years at Kansas. He started with an ankle injury and then had an abdominal injury, both really slowed him down. When he committed to Kansas (after decommitting from Louisville) Bill Self really thought Pettiford was going to be a major contibutor to his team saying “We were very fortunate when Bobby opened up his recruitment last month. He became a priority immediately. We feel Bobby has a tremendous future, great upside and will make an immediate impact for us. His work ethic and drive are something I think every program hopes every player has.”
Pettiford is interesting to me. He’s a very physical guard, a good defender, and a good finisher around the rim, but he’s not super athletic, nor is he a great long-range shooter. He also isn’t someone who is explosive in transition. Those seem to be all things Keatts is looking for in a PG, so you’d think Pettiford isn’t going to be a major target for State, but you never know. He has a lot of talent, but I’m not sure he fits great with the pieces NC State currently has in place. However, in HS he was a really good shooter and showed a real scoring ability, so who knows.
ECU | 6’2, 180lbs | 15.8 ppg, 5.6 assists, 33% from 3pt range | From South Bend, IN
Small isn’t a North Carolina prep kid, but his connection to the state is that he’s transferring from ECU. This is a kid who was a 3-star recruit and only had mid-major offers, but has erupted for the Pirates this season. He’s a big, strong PG who shot nearly 40% from the floor and 33.3% from long range. This year Jarkel Joiner shot 42.8% from the field and 35.4% from long range. So he’s not quite the shooter that Joiner was, but he’s not that far off. He also is more of a playmaker than Joiner. He averaged 5.6 assists per game and 3.4 turnovers per game. He was ranked 18th nationally in assist rate when he went down with a knee injury in mid-January. This is a guy that I think Keatts should try to bring in, and it looks like he’s already reached out.
ECU transfer Javon Small has heard from the following schools since entering the transfer portal, he tells @On3sports:
NC State https://t.co/oY8D4CDfHM
— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) March 16, 2023
Check out his highlights…
WKU | 6’1, 195lbs | 16.5 ppg, 5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 34% from 3pt range | From Shelbyville, KY
McKnight is being listed here because NC State has reached out to him. I’m not aware of any connection with the staff, but he definitely fits the Keatts mold. He’s a little bit of a bigger, stronger guard, and honestly is like an undersized James Harden with the way he creates space and attacks the basket (He’s also a lefty). McKnight is going to be a really unique player no matter where he ends up. He’s got a knack for creating space, great footwork, a nice jumper and he really loves drawing contact on his drives to the hoop. I can definitely see why NC State reached out, and if he really does pattern his game after James Harden, then the NC State high screen and roll offense is the perfect system for him. Don’t look at his frame and think he’s slow, either. The kid has speed and while he’s not going to play above the rim, he’ll be a scoring threat no matter where he lands.
Western Kentucky transfer Dayvion McKnight has heard from the following schools since entering the portal, source tells @On3sports:
Mississippi State https://t.co/rPam5GZvdb
— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) March 22, 2023
Here are his highlights…
As more names get added to the portal with NC State connections, we’ll add them here and reshare this article.
cebner I wouldn’t base my opinions on a few fans that don’t know anything about college sports outside of a few powerhouse programs. There is no knowledgeable fan of college sports anywhere that doesn’t know about NC State. The only one living in a bubble is you and a few casual fans around the country that have stumbled across your big S.
@ccebner I look at it differently. Look at what Tony Bennett has done at UVA. UVA does not have the history of State nor do they have any recent success prior to Bennett. All it takes is one good coach to turn a program around. Really what State needs is a systems coach. One that emphasizes defense and ball movement. There are many paths a program can take to get to where they want to be. Recruiting is only one. There are some solid mid majors out there that win every year in the tourney with guys no one ever… Read more »
I love nc state and want nothing more than to see us win but our rich history in basketball happened WAY too long ago to help us in recruiting. Our football program is and has been a train wreck since Rivers graduated. No big name coach will want to take our job as we are too insignificant of a program. These are major challenges for us but constantly firing coaches is not a good idea. Give both coaches plenty of breathing room and long term contracts. It took Bill Cowherd (nc state grad) over a decade to get the Steelers… Read more »
Folks….as an NC State grad and die hard we must realize who we are. We stink at the two major sports in basketball and football and we have stunk for a long, long time. Coach G got us to a couple of sweet sixteens in the last few years….we should make a giant bronze statue of him on campus as far as I am concerned. We are not a national program like we once we’re in the 70’s and 80’s. We are essentially a regional entity with little recognition outside of the Carolinas. I have lived in the south, north… Read more »
FromTheClassOf1975 Aside from all the transfers what do you think about his coaching? Sure he is better than the guy he replaced but that was a pretty “lowe” bar to begin with (yes I pun). In my opinion based on the 5 seasons I’ve witnessed, Gott is horrible at in-game adjustments, his offenses are generally one-dimensional (get the ball to: CJL, Wood, TJ, Cat), and his defenses are the worst. I don’t think you can blame 5 seasons of lackluster defense on the players alone. This past season should have been one of State’s best defenses ever. I mean they… Read more »
No, we should not fire Gott, we don’t have enough information to draw any substantial conclusions. It’s all circumstantial. It would be nice to get more than 140 characters from Abu, if he has a legit complaint. Coach Gott stood with us when no one else would, at any price. It would seem to me that we should stand by him until we are sure he doesn’t deserve our loyalty. He has much better results than previous coaching with less than stellar talent. I don’t recall any of the transfers getting drafted recently… We all wear red because we love… Read more »
Thank God we still have the two Chris’s. We will be the laughing stock of North Carolina if we keep Gottfried.
I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes so I won’t speculate. Abu trying to transfer as a rising junior is a seriously foolish move. The NBA is like a dirty old man, it doesn’t like 22/23 year olds. It likes 18/19 year olds with high upsides. Let’s say Abu transfers and has to sit out next season. The following year even if he improves upon his numbers at a new school marginally, now he is 22 years old entering the draft and his upside is non-existent. That drops him down to late 2nd round or worse and most… Read more »
Why Abu would leave/transfer is beyond me. The twins played hard and tough but seemed to always to be looking out for themselves so I don’t mind them leaving. Cat will be another Jeff Teague so his move made sense. Gottfried needs to do whatever he needs to do to keep Abu. If he transfers then something not good has got to be going on behind the scenes. He won’t get drafted so we don’t have to worry about that happening. One thing for sure is, you never know what to expect in the off season with NCSU basketball.