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NC State Basketball

PLAYER PREVIEW: Markell Johnson is ‘grown up’ and ready to lead a talented Wolfpack backcourt



No one ever questioned the talent level of Markell Johnson.

The Cleveland native was a highly recruited 4-star guard out of high school, but with Dennis Smith Jr.’s commitment to NC State, Johnson was forced into a backup role in his first season with the Wolfpack.

Behind Smith, Johnson still averaged over 20 minutes per game. He showcased great hustle and elite-level court vision, and was a breath of fresh air on a team that was often sluggish and at times selfish.

A lot changed last year, and nearly all of it was in favor or Markell. Gottfried was fired, Dennis Smith Jr went pro, Terry Henderson wasn’t awarded his 6th year, and Kevin Keatts was brought in to completely change the program.

This left Johnson in a position where, even as a sophomore, he was the only guard with experience at NC State. This made him a focal point for Kevin Keatts. If Keatts was going to succeed, he’d need Markell Johnson to be one of the best PGs in the ACC. The good news was that his system was almost a perfect fit for Johnson’s skill-set.

After an early legal scare, Markell came back and quickly became a high-impact player for Keatts.

Johnson averaged 9.3 points and 7.3 assists per game. Those numbers put him in some high company amongst Wolfpack point guards. His 7.3 assists actually led the entire ACC and he finished 3rd nationally in assists per game.

So the question everyone is asking is, what will he do for an encore?

We caught up with Markell at media day, but he didn’t want to talk too much about himself. Instead, he wanted to talk about his team and their goals.

“Our expectations are to win every game.” Johnson said.

To win this season NC State is going to have to not only rely on the talented junior, but also the group of guards behind him.

With the loss of Abu, Freeman, and Yurtseven, NC State is going to be forced to rely heavily on those guards

“We’ve got a lot of guards. We’re going to get out and run as much as we can. Get up and down, play defense” Johnson said. “We just have to find out who can play with who. A lot of different lineups because there are a lot of guards on the court this year.”

And if you’re wondering what Markell thinks of having so many guys backing him up this season?

“I love it. I’m a guard. I like playing fast. I’m going to have other guards running with me now. It’ll be fun.”

But it will also be competitive. Something Johnson isn’t shying away from.

“(More guards) means more competition in practice. But we need that. With a long season ahead of us it’s definitely good for us to have the guards we have.”

As for Keatts, just like last year, Johnson is going to be his key to success. However, this year he feels he’s more equipped to take on that role, both mentally and pysically.

“When you see Markell you’ll notice some extra bulk on him.” Keatts said. “He’s grown up a lot. At the beginning of last season, there was a lot he needed to work on. He’s become a better student, he’s popular around campus now and he’s done a great job of talking more with his teammates on the court.”

NC State Basketball

NC State Men’s Basketball Returns the 8th Most Production in 2020



NC State’s Men’s Basketball team will experience a luxury this year, that they lacked in abundance last year: returning production.

The Wolfpack is returning the 8th most production from last year amongst all of the Power 5 schools.

Power 5 teams with the most returning production

Colorado 94.1%, 50/1 odds to make Final Four
Notre Dame 89%, 75/1
Maryland 83.3%, 6/1
Illinois 81.6%. 25/1
Oklahoma State 76.2%, 75/1
Baylor 76.1%, 10/1
Georgia Tech 73.9%, 250/1
North Carolina State 71.6%, 50/1
Oregon State 71.5%, 75/1
Rutgers 71.4%, 125/1 (BET)

Breakdown of Production Returning in 2020

  • 71% minutes played
  • 73% of points scored
  • 64% of rebounds
  • 80% of assists
  • 74% of steals
  • 67% of blocks
  • 88% of 3-pointers made



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NC State Basketball

Ken Pomeroy Ranks NC State’s Men’s Basketball Program 38th Since 1997



Ken Pomeroy is a legend in the world of basketball statistical analytics. He’s been doing his thing since 1997, and he recently released his Program Ratings since the beginning, and according to his calculations, the Wolfpack have been the 38th best program in college basketball over the past 22 years. According to the ratings, NC State is the 10th best Men’s Basketball program in the ACC since 1997.

ACC Teams in Ken Pom’s Program Ratings Since 1997

1) Duke
4) UNC
8) Louisville
15) Syracuse
17) Virginia
27) Florida State
29) Notre Dame
31) Miami
35) Pittsburgh
38) NC State
50) Clemson
57) Wake Forest
63) Virginia Tech
65) Georgia Tech
78) Boston College

The Wolfpack’s best season was 2004 (9th), and worst season was 2008 (110th). They have finished in his Top-25 3 times over 22 years.

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NC State Basketball

Jersey Numbers Assigned to NC State’s New Basketball Players



The NC State Men’s Basketball team will have quite a few new faces this year. Recently each of them received their jersey number.

  • Freshman Guard Dereon Seabron – #1
  • Redshirt Sophomore Forward Atticus Taylor – #3
  • Junior Guard Thomas Allen – #5 (will have to sit out the upcoming season due to transfer rules)
  • Redshirt Freshman Forward Manny Bates – #15 (missed all of last season, but was assigned #12)
  • Graduate Senior Forward Danny Dixon – #21
  • Graduate Senior Forward Pat Andree – #31

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NC State Basketball

Andy Katz Lists NC State’s Markell Johnson as Honorable Mention for Top-25 College Basketball Players


on’s Andy Katz released his Top-25 College Basketball players heading into the 2019-20 Men’s Basketball seasons, and NC State Senior Point Guard earned Honorable Mention status. Out of the 15 players receiving Honorable Mention, there is no indication of ranking order. With that being said, it is clear that Katz thinks that Johnson is one of the Top-40 players in College Basketball.

25. Isaiah Stewart, Fr., C, Washington

24. Andrew Nembhard, So., G, Florida

23. Ashton Hagans, So., G, Kentucky

22. Ayo Dosunmu, So., G, Illinois

21. Killian Tillie, Sr., F, Gonzaga

20. Xavier Tillman, Jr., F, Michigan State

19. Trevion Williams, So., F, Purdue

18. Jalen Smith, So., F, Maryland

17. Tristan Clark, Jr., F, Baylor

16. Sam Merrill, Sr., G, Utah State

15. Kaleb Wesson, Jr., C, Ohio State

14. Udoka Azubuike, Sr., C, Kansas

13. Jarron Cumberland, Sr., G, Cincinnati

12. Devon Dotson, So., G, Kansas

11. Anthony Edwards, Fr., G, Georgia

10. Lamar Stevens, Sr., F, Penn State

9. Anthony Cowan Jr., Sr., Maryland

8. Tre Jones, So., G, Duke

7. Kerry Blackshear Jr., Sr., Florida

6. Jordan Nwora, Jr., F, Louisville

5. Cole Anthony, Fr., G, North Carolina

4. James Wiseman, Fr., C, Memphis

3. Myles Powell, Sr., G, Seton Hall

2. Markus Howard, Sr., G, Marquette

1. Cassius Winston, Sr., G, Michigan State

Honorable mention: McKinley Wright IV, Jr., G, Colorado; Yoeli Childs, Sr., F, BYU; Kamar Baldwin, Sr., G, Butler; Anthony Lamb, Sr., F, Vermont; Nathan Knight, Sr., C, William & Mary; Zavier Simpson, Sr., G, Michigan; Markell Johnson, Sr., G, NC State; Nico Mannion, Fr., G, Arizona; Davide Moretti, Jr., G, Texas Tech; Jordan Ford, Sr., G, Saint Mary’s; Tres Tinkle, Sr., F, Oregon State; Payton Pritchard, Sr., G, Oregon; Mamadi Diakite, Jr., Virginia; Xavier Sneed, Sr., Kansas State;  Joe Wieskamp, Iowa.


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