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NC State Basketball

PLAYER PREVIEW: After 2 years of waiting, DJ Funderburk is finally ready to shine

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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 Basketball

Markell Johnson is Returning to NC State for his Senior Season

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What I reported last week has been made official…Markell Johnson will be returning to NC State for his Senior Season.

Johnson went through the NBA Draft Evaluation Process, and despite not receiving an invitation to the 2019 NBA Combine, he did workout for the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets.

This is huge news for the Wolfpack.

Johnson improved in nearly every facet of the game in 2018-19.

  • Field Goal Percentage – 46% –> 48.8%
  • 3-Point Percentage – 40.9% –> 42.2%
  • 2-Point Percentage – 49.1% –> 56.7%
  • Points Peg Game – 8.9 –> 12.6
  • Turnovers – 3.2 –> 2.2

He did see his Assist average go down last season (from an ACC best 7.3 to 4.2), but that was due to the team needing him to be more of a playmaker.

Part of Johnson’s issues as a Junior was foul trouble. He averaged 4 less minutes per game.

Johnson has NBA talent, but he will need to grow as a Senior, and stay on the court, and play more aggressively on a consistent basis.

The return of Markell makes NC State a prospective NCAA Tournament team next year.

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RELEASE: NC State Women’s Basketball Coach Wes Moore Receives New 6-Year Contract

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RALEIGH – After guiding the NC State women’s basketball program to back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances, Wes Moorehas received a new six-year contract. The contract was approved by the Board of Trustees in April and then by the UNC System Board of Governors this week.

“Wes continues to elevate our women’s basketball program and this new contract reflects our commitment to what he is building,” said Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan. “I look forward to Wes leading NC State women’s basketball for many years to come.”

Moore’s new deal extends him through 2025 and increases his compensation to $750,000 annually.

“I’m grateful to NC State for this commitment and belief in what we’re building,” said Moore. “We’ve made so many significant strides. We have a first-class facility to play in, a wonderful University and city to call home and I’m excited for the future of NC State women’s basketball.”

In six years in Raleigh, Moore has guided the Wolfpack to a 140-58 overall mark, including a 63-33 record in ACC competition. He has led NC State to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including a 28-6 mark this season which culminated with a No. 9 final ranking, the highest final ranking by the Wolfpack since 1998.

Coaching a squad that lost four significant contributors to season-ending injuries, Moore finished as the runner-up for the Associated Press National Coach of the Year honors in 2019.  

Over the last three seasons NC State has gone a combined 77-24 and has turned renovated Reynolds Coliseum into one of the most formidable home court advantages in women’s basketball. NC State is 47-6 in the building since its renovation earned NCAA Tournament host seeds each of the past two seasons, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen out of Raleigh both years.

Over 30 seasons, Moore is among the all-time winningest college coaches with a career mark of 698-227 (.754), including 25 seasons of 20 or more wins.

Moore is the second winningest coach in program history behind the late Kay Yow. 

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NC State Signee Jalen Lecque NBA Mock Draft Update

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NC State 2019 signee Jalen Lecque is going through the NBA Draft Process, and has until June 10th to pull his name out of the hat. Lecque participated in the NBA Combine last week on the first day, but opted out of competition the next day. Everyone assumes that Lecque and his camp were pleased with his performance, and didn’t want to taint that image.

Here’s a rundown of where Lecque sits in the most recent Mock Drafts:

Sports Illustrated – 2nd Round, #41 overall, Atlanta Hawks (Updated 5/20)

NBADraft.net – 2nd Round, #57 overall, New Orleans Pelicans (Updated 5/15 at 2:01pm)

Sporting News – Top 50 – Unlisted (Updated 5/20)

Tankathon – Undrafted

Net Scouts Basketball – Undrafted (Updated 5/15)

While I think the likelihood of Lecque being in Raleigh next year is slim, I still am concerned for his future success in the NBA. Evan Daniels at 247Sports on numerous occasions has spoken to the fact that his game would benefit by a year in college, especially his shot, and inexperience at the point guard position. The NBA is an unforgiving league, and it’s easy to wash out if your not “NBA ready.”

If Lecque were to choose to come to NC State next year at the end of his evaluation process, there are technically no scholarships available, but I have no doubts that one would somehow become available.

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Markell Johnson UPDATE, Working Out for Hornets Today

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NC State Point Guard Markell Johnson is working out for the Charlotte Hornets today.

Johnson worked out for the Hawks on April 30th, after deciding to go through the NBA Draft Process on April 5th.

With one year of eligibility left, Johnson has until May 29th to decide whether he will return for his Senior season.

According to my sources, Johnson is expected to be back next year. In fact, I was told he met with the team last week to inform them of his plans.

With that being said, Johnson is getting the most out of this process. Even though he wasn’t invited to the NBA Combine, these workouts will give him feedback from NBA coaches and scouts that will be formative for his development.

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