Derek ‘DJ’ Funderburk, like many other players on this year’s NC State roster, will be suiting up in the red and white for the first time. He also, like many others, already has college basketball experience.
Out of high school, Funderburk committed to Ohio State University but was released after his redshirt season for “failing to meet expectations.” Instead of sitting a year and attempting to transfer, he spent what ended up being his freshman season, at Northwest Florida State College (which is a junior college).
Now a sophomore, the 6’9 forward is looking to put the past behind him get his career back on track.
“It’s exciting to me.” said Funderburk. “It’s my first year in division 1 college basketball. I’m obviously up for the challenge. Coach Keatts is a great guy. His coaching skills (come from) Hargrave so I’m kind of used to it, playing under AW, I’m ready to go.”
The transition to a new city and a new team may be softened by the fact that he joins a group not too unlike himself. Only 4 of the 12 players on the roster actually played at NC State last season, but 9 of the 12 have played college basketball at some level. Funderburk doesn’t see that as a disadvantage at all, in fact, he thinks it might work in the Pack’s favor.
“The chemistry is for sure there. I feel like we kind of clicked within the first 2 weeks of being around each other.” he said. “I like this team because I see everyone on the outside thinking “It’s a whole bunch of transfers and they won’t be ready. It’s going to be a rebuilding year.” That’s not going to be the case. I’m just ready to fool people and get a lot of upsets.”
Funderburk figures to play a big role on this team. With Omer Yurtseven’s transfer and State losing Abu and Freeman to graduation, the Wolfpack frontcourt is pretty thin. So what exactly does DJ bring to the table? (WATCH his JUCO highlights here)
“Having the ability to play inside and outside.” he told us. “Having the ability to run up and down the court and play defense as well as I can. I think that’s going to be a major asset to the team.”
Keatts is going to be relying on what he’s calling his “three-headed monster” which includes Funderburk, Samford transfer Wyatt Walker and freshman Ian Steere. We asked DJ what each guy will be able to uniquely contribute.
“90% of the time Wyatt gets it down there it’s a bucket, as far as post moves. And Ian, he’s a strong freshman. Very athletic. And me, I’m able to use my speed and my handle more to get around my defenders.”
Funderburk is exactly the type of big that Keatts needs. He’s got the versatility to be a matchup nightmare at the 4, but also can slot into the 5 when he wants to go small and fast (with Dorn at the 4).
No matter how he’s used, Funderburk if just happy to to finally get his chance to shine at college basketball’s highest level.
“It’s been a long time coming and everybody has their own testimony so I’m just ready to go. It’s been a tough road but I’m ready.”
See video above for the full interview (with more quotes).
NC State Makes Top-10 for Graduate Transfer Guard Justin Kier
George Mason Graduate Transfer Guard Justin Kier (6’4″/197) included NC State in his list of Final 10 schools.
— Andrew Slater (@Andrew__Slater) April 13, 2020
Kier was granted a fifth year of eligibility after missing all but 9 games last season due to injury. He was expected to arguably be George Mason’s best returning player next year, averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, earning All-Atlantic 10 2nd Team honors.
NC State Reaches Out to UAB Transfer Makhtar Guyer
According to Rivals’ Corey Evans, NC State has reached out to UAB Transfer Forward Makhtar Guyer (6’10″/210), after he announced he was transferring on Friday.
Virginia Tech has offered UAB transfer Makhtar Guyer, he tells @RivalsPortal.
Georgetown, Miami, Mississippi State, NC State and San Diego State have reached out since his transfer yesterday. @Hokie_Haven
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) April 11, 2020
— Makhtar Gueye (@Thelionkilla) April 11, 2020
Guyer has one year of eligibility remaining. Last year as a Junior at UAB, Guyer averaged 6.8 points and 5.1 rebounds, starting in 27 of 31 games.
NC State Accepts Recommendation to Move Case to IARP
NC State has accepted the recommendation to move their violation’s case from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.
“We’ve stated throughout this process that NC State will accept accountability for any shortcomings and defend ourselves aggressively where we feel it is appropriate and necessary to do so,” Woodson wrote in a statement released by the school on Wednesday. “As our response to the Referral Petition demonstrates, we do not think NC State can receive an objective or fair hearing before the Committee on Infractions in this matter. We believe the only remaining option is that our case be moved to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.
“NC State has a long history of working cooperatively with the NCAA, and we remain committed to working collaboratively through the IARP to address concerns and to resolve this matter as fairly and efficiently as possible.” (WRAL)
The IARP is made up of decision makers that are investigators and legal advocates that are independent of any NCAA teams.
The difference between the traditional process, and the IARP, is that the latter’s decision is final, unable to be appealed.
Vote For NC State Men’s Basketball Fans in Fox College Hoops 64-Team Bracket
In the absence of the NCAA Tournament, Fox College Hoops has created a 64-team bracket to determine the best fanbase of Men’s Basketball teams.
They determined 60 of the contestants based of the Men’s Basketball teams with the most Twitter followers. The final four were determined by the highest rated teams not yet selected according to the NET Rankings.
You: So how does this #FOXFanVote thing work?
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) April 5, 2020
The winner of each matchup is determined by fan vote, obviously.
NC State’s Men’s Basketball fans were given a #8 seed in the East Bracket.
The winner of the bracket, will earn quite a gift. Fox College Hoops will place a billboard of that team in close proximity to their rival.
Go ahead and vote for NC State to beat Alabama in the 1st round right now.