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NC State Basketball

PLAYER PREVIEW: Wyatt Walker set to bring experience, grittiness to Wolfpack frontcourt

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Wyatt Walker might be a new face in Raleigh, but he’s certainly no rookie.

The 6’9 grad-transfer played at Samford for 3-years and starred for the Bulldogs, averaging 12 points and 8 rebounds per game. At NC State he’ll be asked to do a lot of the same as he steps into a prominent frontcourt role with the Wolfpack.

So how did Keatts end up nabbing an experienced center who has had this much success?

“I knew I wanted to play at a higher level after my 3 years at Samford.” said Walker  “So, I opened up my recruitment. Coach Keatts and me had already built a great relationship when he was at UNCW. I knew him and Coach Siddle. CJ Bryce and me were pretty good friends. As soon as he contacted me I was pretty fired up.Then I scheduled a visit, came in and loved it from day one.”

Walker is coming into a great situation. With the transfer of Omer Yurtseven and the loss of Lennard Freeman and Malik Abu to graduation, he is likely going to slot right into a starting role. But the situation isn’t just great on his side, it’s pretty darn good for NC State as well.

Walker is a rare graduate transfer who has 2-years of eligibility left. That is due to separate knee injures that cost him a season.

“I tore my meniscus in the preseason and I did surgery and rehab. I was at 100% and then had a freak accident in the 2nd game of the season last year and tore it again. Then did my last surgery in December, so it’s been a long time. I’m back at 100%, playing, running, feeling great.”

While it’s always concerning when a player has injured a knee multiple times, Walker isn’t too concerned about it and feel like he’s back to full strength.

“I feel great. Our trainers and strength coach do a great job… When I got here there was a big emphasis on getting my body right before anything. I feel great. At this point, you just have to go out and play. I rarely think about it anymore and whatever God’s plan is, whatever happens, happens.”

So what can NC State fans expect to see when he suits up in the red and white? Well, when asked who he patterns his game after, he mentioned a name we hadn’t heard in a long time.

Arvydas Sabonis

Not what we were expecting, but certainly not dissapointing at all. Sabonis was one of the best European players the NBA has ever seen. He could pass it, shoot it and score with his back to the basket. He had nearly unstoppable post moves and what he lacked in athleticism, he made up for in craftiness and work ethic.

That type of work ethic is already being noticed by his teammates.

“He works hard.” said PG Braxton Beverly. “He’s gritty. He’s got a lot of experience and had a great career as Samford when he was healthy and he’s doing the same thing here. He’s working his butt off every day. He brings that experience that is going to make a big difference for us.”

And his post moves seem to be turning some heads as well.

“90% of the time Wyatt gets it down there it’s a bucket, as far as post-moves.” said frontcourt mate DJ Funderburk.

If NC State is going to be as good as some think they are, they’re going to have to have quality play from their frontcourt, and whether he’s ready or not, Wyatt Walker is going to be a deciding factor.

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NC State’s Jericole Hellems Cleared to Practice

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After speaking with a source yesterday, I can confirm that NC State Forward Jericole Hellems has been cleared to practice.

On Saturday, Hellems was taken off the court in Winston-Salem on a stretcher, and was immediately taken to Baptist Hospital, after suffering a scary injury to his head and lower back scrapping for a rebound with 28 seconds to go.

He was released from the hospital the following day, returning to Raleigh to be monitored by NC State’s physicians.

While Hellems is cleared to practice, I can’t confirm to what degree he is practicing with the team, or if he will be able to play for the Wolfpack against UNCG this Sunday on the road.

Either way, this is huge news for NC State. Over the past three games, Hellems has been the most impressive player on the roster, in my opinion, and definitely the most improved. He is currently playing the best ball of his collegiate career, looking like the player that broke out at Peach Jam a few years back.

On the year, Hellems is averaging 12.3 points per game, which is tied for 2nd on the team, and is shooting 38.7% from three.

This is huge news for the Wolfpack, especially with a game against #10 Auburn on the road next Thursday.

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NCAA.com’s Andy Katz Ranks NC State #32 in Power 36

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Andy Katz of NCAA.com updated his Power 36 rankings yesterday, ranking NC State Men’s Basketball team 32nd. Basically, these rankings represent the Top-36 teams that could be at-large selections in the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

32. NC State (NR): The Wolfpack destroyed Wisconsin by 15 before the Badgers pummeled Indiana, which had beaten Florida State. Got it. The Wolfpack are still worthy. (NCAA)

The Wolfpack wasn’t ranked in the previous rankings.

ACC Teams in Katz’s Power 36
1) Louisville
8) Duke
16) Virginia
27) Florida State
32) NC State
34) UNC

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NC State Women’s Basketball Moves Up To #9 in AP Poll

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After beating #9 Maryland last week, the NC State Women’s Basketball team moved up 4 spots to take their spot.

The Wolfpack spent 16 weeks in the Top-10 last year.

ACC Teams in the Week 6 AP Poll

7) Louisville (-5)
8) FSU (-)
9) NC State (+4)
25) Miami (-4)
29) UNC (+3)

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NC State Submits Response to NCAA Notice of Allegations

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NC State’s deadline to respond to the Notice of Allegations they received from the NCAA was today, and respond they did.

Wolfpack Athletic Director Boo Corrigan released this statement on Twitter today in regards to the school’s response.

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Chancellor Randy Woodson had this to say today in a statement.

“When this process started, we promised accountability where appropriate and vigorous defense where necessary, and our response does exactly that,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement released by the school on Monday. “We look forward to a thorough and accurate review by the panel of the committee on infractions and a fair resolution of this case for the university and the NCAA.” (N&O)

Senior Associate Athletic Director Fred Demarest had this to say.

“N.C. State strenuously disputes and is contesting the NCAA’s most serious Level I allegation based on a lack of evidence of a recruiting violation, combined with the improper use of information from a criminal trial,” Fred Demarest, a senior associate athletic director, said in a statement released by the school. “As a result, we assert that this infractions case should be viewed as, at most, a potential Level II case.” (N&O)

Basically, it seems like NC State is claiming fault for the inappropriate distribution of tickets, considering them to be Level II (which was the allegation), or Level III infractions. What they aren’t claiming fault to is being guilty of any Level I infractions. According to the school, what took place with Dennis Smith Jr. should be a Level II infraction at the most, due to a lack of evidence among other things.

In the school’s response, they propose to self-impose the following sanctions:

  • Loss of 1 scholarship in the 2021-22 recruiting class (If one doesn’t come available before)
  • Reduction in Official Recruiting Visits this year.
  • Prohibition of unofficial visits during a 2-week period this year
  • $5,000 fine

The NCAA now has 60 days to respond, and a hearing before the Committee of Infractions will follow.

 

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