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NC State Basketball

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

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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’s ACC Leaders Heading Into Week 6 of College Basketball

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We are heading into Week 6 of the 2018-19 Men’s College Basketball season, and NC State is currently 8-1. Here’s a look at which Wolfpack players rank among the ACC leaders through 9 games of non-conference play.

Senior Torin Dorn is leaving his mark all over the box score, ranking 11th in scoring (16.1), 13th in rebounding (7.2), 7th in steals (2.0) and 6th in field goal percentage (53.3%).

Junior Point Guard Markell Johnson ranks 7th in the ACC (4.22), 6th in Assist/Turnover Ratio (2.53) and 2nd in 3-Point Field Goal Percentage (48.6%).

 

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NC State Men’s Basketball Falls to #37 in the Week 6 Coaches Poll

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The Week 6 Coaches Poll is out, and the NC State Men’s Basketball team fell two spots to #37. Last week the Wolfpack only played one game, defeating Western Carolina 100-67. They will take on Penn State this Saturday in the Boardwalk Classic at 2pm in Atlantic City.

ACC Teams in the Week 6 Coaches Poll Top-25

2) Duke (+1)
3) Virginia (+1)
10) FSU (+1)
12) UNC (-)
13) Virginia Tech (+1)

ACC Teams Receiving Votes

32) Syracuse (+2)
37) NC State (-2)

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NC State Moves Up to #32 in the Week 6 AP Men’s Basketball Poll

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The Week 6 AP Men’s Basketball Poll is out, and NC State moved up 2 spots to #32 after beating Western Carolina 100-67 last Wednesday.

ACC Teams in the Week 6 AP Poll Top-25

2) Duke (+1)
6) Virginia (-2)
10) Florida State (+1)
12) UNC (+2)
13) Virginia Tech (+2)
25) Syracuse (+2)

ACC Teams Receiving Votes

32) NC State

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NC State Ranks 15th in NBCSports Week 6 Men’s Basketball Top-25

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NBCSports revealed their Week 6 Men’s College Basketball Top-25 last night, and NC State moved up two spots to #15.

Week 6 Top-25

1. Duke (9-1, Last week: 2)
2. Michigan (10-0, 3)
3. Tennessee (7-1, 6)
4. Gonzaga (9-1, 1)
5. Virginia (9-0, 4)
6. Kansas (8-0, 5)
7. Nevada (10-0, 7)
8. Auburn (8-1, 8)
9. North Carolina (7-2, 9)
10. Florida State (8-1, 10)
11. Texas Tech (8-0, 11)
12. Michigan State (8-2, 13)
13. Virginia Tech (8-1, 14)
14. Wisconsin (8-2, 15)
15. N.C. State (8-1, 17)
16. Ohio State (8-1, 19)
17. Arizona State (7-1, 20)
18. Purdue (6-4, 18)
19. Villanova (8-2, UR)
20. Syracuse (7-2, UR)
21. Marquette (8-2, UR)
22. Buffalo (9-0, UR)
23. Mississippi State (8-1, 25)
24. Iowa (7-2, 23)
25. Nebraska (8-2, 24)

New Additions: 19. Villanova, 20 Syracuse, 21. Marquette
Dropped Out: 12. Kentucky, 16. Kansas State, 21. Creighton (NBCSports)

NBCSports has been a believer in the Wolfpack from the start this year, ranking them 23rd in their Preseason Poll.

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