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PLAYER PREVIEW: PG Blake Harris says he’s prepared, but getting in ‘Keatts-shape” wasn’t easy

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Sophomore PG Blake Harris was very nearly a Wolfpacker coming out of high school. The 4-star prospect attended Raleigh’s ‘Word of God Academy’ and was heavily recruited by Kevin Keatts prior to the 2017-18 season.

While Harris was mulling over his decision, NC State landed a commitment Lavar Batts, another in-state PG that Keatts was after. That commitment gave NC State 3 PGs on their roster and pushed Harris to choose Missouri, where he had a more clear path to playing time.

However, after nearly half a season at Missouri, Harris decided he wanted out and announced his transfer.

As soon as the transfer news broke, we immediately reached out and was told that NC State was a definite possibility. If you remember, we ran a piece the next day hinting at this fact.

Harris has all the tools that Kevin Keatts looks for in a guard. He’s tall, he’s fast, he likes to get up and down, and he can defend multiple positions. He’s also a capable shooter, and while he didn’t show his shot much at Missouri, he has great form. On top of that, sitting out half of last season due to transfer rules put him in a position to really work on improving his shot, and his overall game.

“I’ve been in the gym a lot crafting my skills. Just really getting in the gym and trying to be the best player I can be.” Said Harris. “(Sitting out) was difficult because I wanted to play with my teammates. I was playing with them every day in practice and we were getting better but I couldn’t play in the game, so that was hard.”

Harris is a unique case since he transferred midway through his freshman season but is eligible to play immediately. After sitting out the 2nd half of last season, the NCAA granted him a waiver saying due to a family-related issue, his transfer closer to home wouldn’t require the full 1-year of sitting out. This was huge news for the Wolfpack, giving them good backcourt depth right out of the gate.

And while he may not have any ACC experience, it’s not like Harris didn’t get good burn during his time with the Tigers.

“Playing last year at Missouri, for a little bit, definitely helped. I played 14 games, so I know what college basketball is like. So when the season starts, I’ll be prepared.”

That experience will allow him to slot in right away, but with Markell Johnson locked into the starting role and Braxton Beverly already proven in Raleigh, just how much will we get to see Blake Harris?

Probably a good deal. Harris is very talented, has size and will push the returning guards for minutes, and Keatts isn’t rulin gout playing Johnson, Beverly and Harris at the same time. He hinted at that scenerio in his pre-season presser.

We asked Harris what that might look like…

“Just a fast pace. A bunch of guards trying to get at it. We all want to win, so if we’re all together on the court at the same time, it’s probably going to be a problem for the other team.” Harris told PI.

Going small is something Wolfpack fans should get used to. Last season Keatts system gave only a sample of what he plans to bring this season. With a full roster of guys who can play fast, he’s going to take full advantage. That means everyone needs to be in shape and ready to run.

“Being in Keatts-shape is different from being in normal-shape. He works us out a lot and makes us run a lot so it’s a whole different beast.” Harris said about the training he’s been going through.

Harris is one of three transfers who were sitting out last year, and one of 6 total that are eligable to play this season (3 are grad transfers). So, there are going to be a lot of new faces on this year’s Wolfpack team. Some might wonder if that will make it tough to get this group to mesh. Harris doesn’t think so.

“We all transferred in, we were the new kids. I transferred in last, so I was really the new kid, but being together in practice definitely gave us a better chemistry. Now everybody is close and trying to get to one thing.”

NC State Basketball

NC State Signee Jalen Lecque Goes Undrafted, Signs UDFA Deal with Suns

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Point Guard Jalen Lecque, who was an NC State 2019 signee that opted for the NBA Draft instead of attending school in Raleigh in the Fall, didn’t hear his name called last night in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Despite going undrafted, the Phoenix Suns signed the athletic phenom to a 4-year Undrafted Free Agent Contract, with 2 years guaranteed.

Lecque was a 4-Star prospect out of Brewster Academy, ranked 40th nationally by Rivals and 247.

The high flyer committed to NC State back on October 2nd, submitted his paperwork for NBA eligibility on April 2nd, and fully declared for the Draft on May 29th.

This obviously didn’t go the way Lecque would have ultimately liked, but a guaranteed two-year contract gives reason for optimism.

I still stand on the premise that Lecque would have benefited from a year of college, and likely would have been a lottery pick next year.

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NCAA to Move 3-Point Line Back to International Distance

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When NC State played in the 2019 National Invitational Tournament, there were a variety of experimental rules put in place. One of those was moving the 3-Point line back 1 foot, 8 inches, which is the distance used by the FIBA (International Basketball Federation).

The NCAA considered the experiment successful, and recently approved a rule change to move the arch back to 22 feet and 1¾ inches. This rule will be implemented at the start of the 2019-20 season.

Senior Wolfpack Point Guard Markell Johnson had no problem shooting it from further back, hitting 9-17 (52.9%) in the Wolfpack’s 3 games in the NIT.

As a team, NC State shot 33.3% from the new standard, which was slightly under their season average of 35.3%.

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NC State’s Torin Dorn Worked Out for the Hornets Yesterday

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Former NC State Wing Torin Dorn worked out for the Charlotte Hornets yesterday.

Yesterday’s workout was technically Dorn’s first pre-draft team workout, but he did participate in an agent pro day in Phoenix two weeks ago. Dorn also played well in the Portsmouth Invitational at the end of April.

I would be shocked to see Dorn drafted, but workouts like these could help him get an invite to the NBA Summer League or get a G-League contract.

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NC State Men’s Basketball to Host Wisconsin in Big Ten-ACC Challenge

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RALEIGH, N.C. – The NC State men’s basketball team will host Wisconsin in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the league announced on Thursday.

The game is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 4. Tip-time and broadcast information will be released later.

The match-up will be the fourth all-time between the two programs. Wisconsin has won all three previous meetings, including last season’s game in Madison, Wis., 79-75. Markell Johnson led the Pack with a then-career-high 21 points in defeat.

NC State returns six of its top-seven scorers from last season’s 24-12 team.
 
Wisconsin returns six of its top-eight scorers from last season’s 23-11 team.

Additional opponents and dates for the 2019-20 season will be announced at a later date.

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