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

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

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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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Jersey Numbers Assigned to NC State’s New Basketball Players

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

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NCAA.com’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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