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OUR TAKE: An in-depth look at NC State’s non-conference schedule

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Earlier today, the full 2018-19 NC State basketball schedule was announced.

There had been games announced here and there, and the ACC docket was already set, but this is the first time we’ve seen the full non-conference schedule and it’s pretty interesting.

Here are some of our notes and thoughts on the early season matchups…

  • NC State plays their first 6 games at home and they should be relatively easy. That is a good thing. This is a team with a lot of new pieces, and it’s going to take a little while for this group to get kicking on all cylinders. (It may also take time for these guys to get used to the substitution patterns in Keatts system.)
  • NC State plays at Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. This will be the team’s first road game and will be their first true test. Wisconsin is coming off a tough season in which they finished 9th in their conference. However, they have a ton of returning talent including their star forward Ethan Happ (who averaged 17 ppg last season.)
  • Less than a week later, they play a rebuilt Vanderbilt team in Miami.  A tough turnaround for the Pack as they head from Wisconsin to Miami, Florida for the HoopHall Invitational to face off against Vandy. This is another big name school who struggled last year, finishing 12-20 and coming in 2nd to last in the SEC. However, they have some big-time freshman joining them in 2018. Darius Garland is the #14 player in this class and the #2 PG. Head coach Bryce Drew compared him to Trae Young over the summer. They are also adding the #11 player in the class (and #3 PF) Simisola Shittu. Add on that they have two good bigs who transferred in and are eligible this year (Yanni Wetzell and Matt Ryan) and Vandy seems to have a very good shot at improving on their disastrous 2017-18 season.
  • Then NC State takes on Western Carolina at Reynolds. This is the first that we’ve heard that WCU would be the Reynolds game, but it makes sense. Former NC State assistant (who was also the former WCU head coach) Larry Hunter, recently passed away and will likely be honored during this game.
  • NC State takes on Penn State in Atlantic City. This is a game for the “Boardwalk Classic” which isn’t a tournament, but more like a day where a bunch of teams play in Atlantic City, NJ. The Pack beat Penn State last season 85-78 in a ‘grind-it-out’ kind of game but was lit up by Tony Carr for 29 points. Lucky for Keatts and company, Carr is in the NBA now, so that threat has passed. However, Penn State is no pushover. They finished 9-9 in the Big Ten, good for 6th place (and an eventual NIT championship). This year their main guy will be Lamar Stevens. He’s a junior who really came into his own last season. He dropped 13 against the Pack last year but really got things going at the end of the year. His 28 points outburst in the NIT Championship sets the stage for his coming out party in 2018-19.
  • NC State takes on #10 Auburn on Dec 19th. The Tigers, led by Bruce Pearl, were one of the more surprising teams of 2017-18. They finished with the second most wins in program history (26) and notched a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament. If you watched Auburn last season, you know that they play an uptempo, defensive heavy brand of basketball. This should make for a really fun, fast-paced matchup. While they did lose a few key guys from last season (Mustapha Heron), they are returning star guard Jared Harper. He’s a junior who was the team’s 3rd leading scorer and put up 5.4 assists per game. While he’s only 5’10, he can really create and has near unlimited range. They also bring back guard Bryce Brown, the team’s second-leading scorer from a season ago. But the biggest news is the return of former 5-star, 6’11 monster, Austin Wiley, who was suspended last season in connection with the sweeping FBI investigation around college basketball. Wiley almost entered the draft, but he decided to come back, giving Auburn an elite big to pair with their dangerous duo of guards. This matchup is easily the toughest of NC State’s non-conference schedule.
  • They finish with 2 winnable games heading into conference play – USC Upstate and Loyola Maryland close out the non-conference schedule. After going through a bit of a gauntlet in late November to mid-December, they finally get a few games to work out some kinks heading into their ACC opener vs. Miami

As you can see, NC State has what I think is a decent non-conference schedule. They open up with some easier games which will give them time to gel and figure themselves out. Then they play some good (but beatable) teams in late November and cap it off with their biggest test yet… #10 Auburn.

It seems like this layout allows the Pack to ramp up at a nice cadence. This is helpful seeing as it’s going to be their first season playing the way the Keatts’ system was meant to be played.

This schedule does give them chances for a few resume builders before conference rolls around, but they’ll need to take advantage of those few chances or it will hurt them come March.

 


Want to talk about the non-conference schedule or see what other State fans think? We are discussing it right here in the forum.

NC State Basketball

WatchStadium: NC State Has Picked Up 2 of the Top-50 Transfers

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Jeff Goodman of Watch Stadium ranked the Top-50 Graduate Transfers this offseason, and NC State has already inked two of them in Guard Thomas Allen and Forward Pat Andree.

21) Thomas Allen, 6-1, 185, SG, Soph., Nebraska
Stats: 8.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg
Scout’s take: “2-guard who shoots it well. Crafty off the bounce. Average defender.”
SchoolsCOMMITTED TO NC STATE

27) Pat Andree, 6-8, 225, F, Lehigh
Stats: 12.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 42% 3-pointers
Scout’s take: “Elite catch and shoot with deep range at a legit 6-foot-7. Good passer if a team values passing, limited off the bounce. Can stretch the defense, but limited on defense.”
SchoolsCOMMITTED TO NC STATE

Watch Stadium

They are also still in the mix for a few of the other Graduate Transfers in Goodman’s rankings.

Charleston Southern Graduate Transfer Christian Keeling will be taking an official visit to NC State on May 3rd.

9) Christian Keeling, 6-4, 175, G, Charleston Southern
Stats: 18.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 38% 3-pointers
Scout’s take: “Elite scorer from 3 and mid-range. Very, very good shooter off the catch-and-bounce. Creative to get his spots. Long and good athlete for his size. Good finisher at the rim, but trusts his jump shot more. Defends.”
Schools: Purdue, NC State (5-3), Clemson (4-19), Georgia Tech, North Carolina (4-23)

Watch Stadium

Valparaiso Center Derrik Smits took an official visit to Raleigh this past weekend.

28) Derrik Smits, 7-1, 240, C, Valparaiso
Stats: 12.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg
Scout’s take: “Huge, very skilled, posts hard. Scores with his back to the basket. Good passer when doubled. Rebounds at both ends. Needs to improve defensively.”
Schools: Arizona State, NC State, Butler

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PI EXCLUSIVE: NC State’s Kiara Leslie Talks About Going 10th in WNBA Draft

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Two weeks ago, NC State Graduate Senior Kiara Leslie was selected 10th overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics. I caught up with her, and she gave her thoughts:

Leslie started her collegiate career at Maryland, so she is excited to be heading to familiar territory.

I’m going back to an area I’m am familiar with, and I know a few of their players.

Kiara Leslie

Even though some were shocked Leslie went so high, it wasn’t a complete shock to her.

I knew it was possible. I had a few teams with picks in the 1st round that I had been communicating with. They didn’t confirm where they would take me, but I knew it was possible. It’s been a blessing. Nobody but God made this happen.

Kiara Leslie

Wolfpack head coach Wes Moore, who came in 2nd in the voting for National Coach of the Year, made a tremendous impact on Leslie’s game over the past two seasons.

This year I had to play a bigger role on the team. He helped me broaden my game and become more comfortable doing things I wasn’t used to doing before.

Kiara Leslie

As a current resident of Holly Springs, North Carolina, it’s awesome to see a native of the Springs make it as a professional athlete.

Not a lot of people from a small town make it to the big stages and play professionally. I am really happy to represent Holly Springs and be a role model for the youth who desire to play professionally as well.

Kiara Leslie

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Cincinnati’s Nysier Brooks Receiving Interest from NC State

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According to CBSSports’ Jon Rotstein, Cincinnati Transfer Nysier Brooks (6’11″/240) is receiving interest from NC State.

Brooks isn’t a graduate transfer, so he would have to sit one year to play one year.

It honestly is an odd move that Brooks submitted his name to the Transfer Portal. He started all 35 games last year for the Bearcats, averaging 8.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He was named Cincinnati’s Defensive Player of the Year.

He’s already 22 years old, and would be 24 by the time he left college if he does in fact transfer.

The reason seems to be stemming from Mike Cronin being hired as UCLA’s coach, as well as a lack of relationship with new coach John Brannen. His Guardian expressed frustration on Twitter that Brannen hadn’t reached out to them yet, and they were leaving Cincinnati as a family.

While it would be huge to add someone of Brooks size and athletic ability, he would suck up 2 years of a scholarship, and only play one. That’s not a big deal if you don’t have anyone already sitting out a year, but Thomas Allen is already doing so. That would leave the Wolfpack with only 11 scholarship players next season.

With that being said, there is some speculation that Brooks could graduate in June, and become a Graduate Transfer.

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NC State is Recruiting Oakland Graduate Transfer Jaevin Cumberland

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According to Joe Giglio of the News & Observer, NC State is actively recruiting Oakland Graduate Transfer Jaevin Cumberland (6’3″/185).

On April 11th, news broke that Jaevin Cumberland would be transferring out of Oakland for his final year of eligibility.

To say that 2018-19 was a breakout season for Cumberland would be an understatement. After playing minimal minutes as a reserve his first two seasons, and redshirting his 3rd year on campus due to a chronic ankle injury, Cumberland started all 33 games for the Golden Grizzlies.

Sports Reference

Cumberland averaged 17.2 points and 3.5 assists this past season, shooting 40% from three-point land.

He took an official visit to Oregon this weekend.

With the exodus of Graduate Wyatt Walker this week, NC State now has 1 scholarship available for next season. Valparaiso Graduate Transfer Derrik Smits is on an official visit in Raleigh this weekend.

Senior Point Guard Markell Johnson is going through the NBA Draft process, and 2019 signee Jalen Lecque officially declared for the NBA Draft yesterday, with today’s deadline looming. Both Johnson and Lecque can end up in Raleigh next year if they go through the process and deem that to be their best situation. Obviously if they go pro, more scholarships will become available.

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