Freshman forward Jericole Hellems isn’t an elite shooter. He’s not an elite ballhandler. He’s a forward thats only 6’6. So why did NC State head coach Kevin Keatts single out Hellems as a priority in the class of 2018?
Because Hellems is the type of player that Kevin Keatts wants to build his team around. A blue-collar, do-it-all, make no excuses kind of kid who loves to defend and can guard every position on the court. We call this the ‘Quintessentialntial Keatts-guy” and this is the type of player who will find success in Keatts system.
“Fitting into Coach Keatts’ system with my game is just being everywhere and just doing a lot of everything. I think I can play inside and I can guard 1 through 5. I just feel like I can do a lot to help the program and fit Coach Keatts’ style.”
Now, don’t’ get us wrong, Hellems is no slouch. He’s coming to NC State as the 130th ranked player in his class, sporting 4-star status according to Rivals.com. However, there’s always a learning curve when coming from high school into the ACC. Hellems is finding that out fast.
“I learned a lot, especially the first couple of weeks. Just working out with the older guys, it’s a lot harder to score than in HS. You just have to work on different bits of your game and take parts and pieces from the older guys and try to learn from them and listen to the coaches.”
One of the older guys that Hellems should be really watching is the guy who Keatts recruited him to replace.
Torin Dorn is in his final season with the Wolfpack, and just like Hellems, he came out of high school as a master of none. Dorn was strong, gritty, decently athletic, but was a tweener at 6’5 and had a suspect jump shot. He quickly proved, during his freshman season at UNC-Charlotte, that he could hang at the Conference USA level. After winning freshman of the year in that conference, Dorn transferred to NC State, and although he started out hot, once State started facing real competition, Dorn struggled.
When Keatts arrived last year he did something not many saw coming. He moved the 6’5 Dorn to the power forward spot. That is where Dorn flourished. He was physical enough to band with the bigger guys on defense, but quick enough to cause mismatches on offense. This season Dorn enters as a leader of the Pack, and behind him is his protege, Jericole Hellems.
Hellems will split time between the 3 and the 4, but likely will be groomed for Dorn’s role upon his exit. To get to that point, he’s going to have to learn what it takes to play at the ACC level. What has been the most difficult part of that thus far?
“Adjusting by trying to get used to the speed. Trying to pick up where I left off from in HS. It’s different so you just have to build on stuff.” Said Hellems.
Luckily, Hellems doesn’t need to wait until games start to feel what it’s like to play at an ACC level. Word is that NC State practices are more competitive than they’ve ever been. Fueling that is a roster that’s 2 or 3 deep at every position.
“(Practice) is crazy competitive. I think it gets each and everyone better every day. It’s a blessing to be in a position to play with these guys and learn from them and from coach, too.”
If Hellems can get up to speed, provide solid defense and good rebounding for the Pack, then he’ll likely carve out a little role for himself on this team. Keatts has already proven that he knows what to do with a 6’6 tough-nosed tweener.
NC State Signee Jalen Lecque Goes Undrafted, Signs UDFA Deal with Suns
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.
NCAA to Move 3-Point Line Back to International Distance
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%.
NC State’s Torin Dorn Worked Out for the Hornets Yesterday
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.
NC State Men’s Basketball to Host Wisconsin in Big Ten-ACC Challenge
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.