NC State’s first year under Kevin Keatts was a special one.
Allerik Freeman’s special performance yesterday in the Wolfpack’s 83-94 loss to Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament was a glimpse of why the Wolfpack were able to exceed expectations in a major way this season.
Freeman scored 36 points against the Pirates, which is the 2nd most points ever scored by an NC State player in an NCAA Tournament game (4 points behind David Thompson’s record 40 points). He was 12 of 19 from the field and 6 of 8 from three.
This game wasn’t an anomaly for Freeman. It was fitting that it was his best game of the season, and aguably the best game of his career, but Freeman showed up in big games like this all season long.
This team didn’t know who they were or what they were capable of early in the season, but that all changed against #2 Arizona down in the Bahamas. Who led the charge? Freeman.
He had one season left to show the world what he could do, and in only his 5th game with NC State, he did just that, scoring 24 points in the Wolfpack’s signature win.
On January 27th, Freeman put together one of the most iconic performances ever by an NC State player against rival UNC, and to put a cherry on top, it came in the Dean Dome. He earned national player of the week honors for dropping 29 on the Heels, going 7-of-7 from three-point land.
In NC State’s 5 Top-25 wins, Freeman averaged 21.4 points per game.
The Wolfpack was picked to finish 12th in the ACC in Kevin Keatts first year. No one expected a big year, and the failure to do so wouldn’t have been held against Keatts. He was implementing a new system. There were a lot of new faces to the program, and the faces that were familiar hadn’t been significant contributors for the Wolfpack in the past. This team lacked depth.
There many reasons that NC State had the special season it had, but it would have been impossible without Freeman.
This team didn’t have a player that exuded confidence. It didn’t have a player who wanted the rock in their hand. It didn’t have a player that was a natural scorer. A player that could create their own shot. A player that could take over the game if need be. A player that was clutch.
That player on this team was Allerik Freeman.
For his final year of college basketball eligibility he moved back to his home state and took a chance with a new program with a first-year coach. It paid off. The 4-Star high school prospect that never really flourished at Baylor, did so at NC State, leading the team in scoring with an average of 16.1.
NC State fans should be forever grateful to Allerik Freeman. Instead of being what easily could have been a transitional rebuilding season, he helped Kevin Keatts resurrect NC State now, instead of later.
Allerik Freeman deserves to get paid to play this sport somewhere in my opinion, and he proved that at NC State. I’m glad he was a part of NC State’s story, and we were a part of his.
Andy Katz Ranks NC State’s Markell Johnson as the #4 Player in the ACC
NCAA.com’s Andy Katz released a podcast two days ago previewing the 2019-20 ACC Men’s Basketball season, and he thinks that NC State Senior Point Guard Markell Johnson is the 4th best player in the conference.
Here’s what Katz had to say about Johnson in the Top-10 breakdown on the podcast.
“He’s a stat stuffer. If NC State goes to the NCAA Tournament, Markell Johnson will lead them. At ACC Media Day told me that he needs to come more out of his shell. He knows that. To be much more demonstrative. Kevin Keatts is putting it on him to become a player like that.” (Katz)
NC State Being Sued by N&O, WRAL, ABC11 & NY Times
According to Will Doran of the N&O, the News & Observer, WRAL, ABC11, and the New York Times have filed a lawsuit against NC State for refusing to turn over records related to Dennis Smith Jr. and the NCAA’s investigation into the Men’s Basketball program.
The article claims that for the past two years, the university has been “knowingly and intentionally violating the law by refusing to turn over public records.” Specifically, documentation of electronic communication and phone records have been denied according to the report.
After the release of the article, a spokesperson of the university reached out to Doran last night to inform him that they had “not seen or been served with the lawsuit and would wait to comment until officials have reviewed it.” The spokesperson also had this to say in a statement:
“N.C. State has released thousands of pages of documents and has acted in good faith and transparency throughout the federal and NCAA investigations,” the spokesperson said. “In addition, the university was prepared to release extensive phone records, but that release has been blocked by a temporary court order.” (N&O)
You can read Doran’s article in full here.
3 NC State Women’s Basketball Players Earn Preseason Honors
The Blue Ribbon Panel and Head Coaches released their Preseason All-ACC Teams today, and NC State Sophomore Center Elissa Cunane and Senior Guard Aislinn Konig both earned honors.
Cunane made both teams, while Konig only made the Head Coaches team.
In her first season, Cunane averaged 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and was named to the All-ACC Freshman Team. Konig averaged 10.7 points and 3.8 assists per game as a Junior, shooting 40.1% from three-point range. Her 214 career three-pointers ranks 5th in program history, and her 93 three-pointers made last year broke her record from the year before (91) for trifecta’s made in a single season.
NC State has had at least one player earn 1st Team All-ACC honors at seasons end the past three years.
Freshman Guard Jakia Brown-Turner made the Newcomer Watch List for both the Blue Ribbon Panel and the Head Coaches.
Brown-Turner was a McDonald’s All-American, and the #15 player in the 2019 recruiting class according to ESPN.
NC State Women’s Basketball Picked to Finish 2nd in the ACC in 2019-20
The NC State Women’s Basketball team was picked to finish 2nd in the ACC in both the Blue Ribbon Panel and the Head Coaches 2019-20 Preseason Polls.
The Wolfpack picked up 8 first place votes in the Blue Ribbon Panel poll, and 2 in the Head Coaches Poll.
The last time NC State finished 2nd place or better in the ACC was the 1989-90 season, when the Wolfpack won the regular season. They finished tied for 2nd in 1997-98 and 1990-91, but were #3 seeds in the ACC Tournament.
Wolfpack Head Coach Wes Moore has either matched or exceeded expectations in all 6 of his seasons thus far in Raleigh. If he were to do so for the 7th consecutive season, he would take NC State to places it hasn’t been in almost 30 years.
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