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VIDEO: Kevin Keatts Talks Before #19 NC State’s Matchup vs. #23 Louisville

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#19 NC State head coach Kevin Keatts spoke with the media today before Thursday’s road game against #23 Louisville. He broke down the latest on Junior Point Guard Markell Johnson’s availability…

The video is ABOVE (Via TheWolfpacker), and a bulleted breakdown is BELOW.

  • I think I said it the other day, he’s (Markell Johnson) a guy that could play on Thursday, or could play three or four weeks from now. I’m not going to play him until he feels mentally and physically ready to play.
    • There won’t be any pressure on our end. We’re prepared to go into every game without him. If he’s able to play…feels he can play…and the doctors and trainers say he can play…we’d definitely love to have him back in our lineup
    • He’s getting shots up with no contact at this point. He’s not moving really fast, but anything we do at the beginning where we get shots up and there is no contact, he participates in that.
    • I think he feels better each day. I typically get a report from our trainer right after practice and every night, and the report last night was he felt better after working out yesterday.
    • He took a pretty nasty fall. He doesn’t have a lot of meat in that area. He’s really, really sore.
  • DJ Funderburk’s been great. He’s long and athletic, and can get to a lot of offensive rebounds. He’s been great in that area, but he’s also done a great job with defensive presence.
    • Against Pitt he had to play a lot of minutes and did a tremendous job without getting into foul trouble. Made some shots. Ran the floor.
    • He gives us the ability on the defensive end where we can switch all screens if we have to, because he’s the only guy on our roster who can guard all five positions on the floor. He’s been very valuable to us.
    • When he’s in the game, we typically don’t have a true center. Wyatt Walker is the closest we have to a true center. We have two power forwards or two forwards when he’s on the floor.
    • At Hargrave, he was always on the front of a press. Played with energy. He played hard. Affected every aspect of the game.
    • Went JUCO and some projected him as the No. 1 JUCO in the country. He’s only going to get better as the years go on. He’ll continue to put on weight. Next year I’d love to see him add 20 more pounds to his frame.
    • It’s a couple of different things (On why he doesn’t start). I don’t like him getting into early foul trouble. He’s also played so great off the bench. Gives us a great lift. He will start games before the season is over. Don’t know when that will be, but he’s so valuable to our program.
    • I felt we had a little bit of advantage (recruiting Funderburk) because AW (Hamilton. Former Assistant Coach who is now at Eastern Kentucky) had coached him. A lot of schools backed off because they thought if NC State wanted him, we’d get him because of his relationship with AW at Hargrave.
  • I think we have to play high-level basketball to win there (Louisville). They are playing as good as any team in our conference. After the Pitt loss, I don’t think they’ve had a game closer than 10 points. They had an unbelievable win at Carolina and on the road with Georgia Tech.
    • (Jordan) Nwora is playing very good basketball. He’s shooting the ball extremely well. They are talented and play hard.
    • Chris (Mack) is doing a great job with the program.
    • My emotions are I’m hoping we can go there and get a win. I’m the NC State coach and excited about our guys. For me, it’s another great opponent on their floor. It’s so hard to win in the ACC on the road.
  • We have to be there on the catch (On what you have to do to stop Nwora). He’s really good. He reminds me so much of Cam Johnson with how he can shoot the ball with his height.
    • He’s very good around the NBA line, but he can also step back and take shots. Right now, he’s shooting into a big rim.
    • The only game in the ACC they didn’t win (Pitt), he didn’t have a great game.

NC State Basketball

WatchStadium: NC State Has Picked Up 2 of the Top-50 Transfers

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Jeff Goodman of Watch Stadium ranked the Top-50 Graduate Transfers this offseason, and NC State has already inked two of them in Guard Thomas Allen and Forward Pat Andree.

21) Thomas Allen, 6-1, 185, SG, Soph., Nebraska
Stats: 8.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg
Scout’s take: “2-guard who shoots it well. Crafty off the bounce. Average defender.”
SchoolsCOMMITTED TO NC STATE

27) Pat Andree, 6-8, 225, F, Lehigh
Stats: 12.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 42% 3-pointers
Scout’s take: “Elite catch and shoot with deep range at a legit 6-foot-7. Good passer if a team values passing, limited off the bounce. Can stretch the defense, but limited on defense.”
SchoolsCOMMITTED TO NC STATE

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They are also still in the mix for a few of the other Graduate Transfers in Goodman’s rankings.

Charleston Southern Graduate Transfer Christian Keeling will be taking an official visit to NC State on May 3rd.

9) Christian Keeling, 6-4, 175, G, Charleston Southern
Stats: 18.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 38% 3-pointers
Scout’s take: “Elite scorer from 3 and mid-range. Very, very good shooter off the catch-and-bounce. Creative to get his spots. Long and good athlete for his size. Good finisher at the rim, but trusts his jump shot more. Defends.”
Schools: Purdue, NC State (5-3), Clemson (4-19), Georgia Tech, North Carolina (4-23)

Watch Stadium

Valparaiso Center Derrik Smits took an official visit to Raleigh this past weekend.

28) Derrik Smits, 7-1, 240, C, Valparaiso
Stats: 12.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg
Scout’s take: “Huge, very skilled, posts hard. Scores with his back to the basket. Good passer when doubled. Rebounds at both ends. Needs to improve defensively.”
Schools: Arizona State, NC State, Butler

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PI EXCLUSIVE: NC State’s Kiara Leslie Talks About Going 10th in WNBA Draft

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Two weeks ago, NC State Graduate Senior Kiara Leslie was selected 10th overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics. I caught up with her, and she gave her thoughts:

Leslie started her collegiate career at Maryland, so she is excited to be heading to familiar territory.

I’m going back to an area I’m am familiar with, and I know a few of their players.

Kiara Leslie

Even though some were shocked Leslie went so high, it wasn’t a complete shock to her.

I knew it was possible. I had a few teams with picks in the 1st round that I had been communicating with. They didn’t confirm where they would take me, but I knew it was possible. It’s been a blessing. Nobody but God made this happen.

Kiara Leslie

Wolfpack head coach Wes Moore, who came in 2nd in the voting for National Coach of the Year, made a tremendous impact on Leslie’s game over the past two seasons.

This year I had to play a bigger role on the team. He helped me broaden my game and become more comfortable doing things I wasn’t used to doing before.

Kiara Leslie

As a current resident of Holly Springs, North Carolina, it’s awesome to see a native of the Springs make it as a professional athlete.

Not a lot of people from a small town make it to the big stages and play professionally. I am really happy to represent Holly Springs and be a role model for the youth who desire to play professionally as well.

Kiara Leslie

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Cincinnati’s Nysier Brooks Receiving Interest from NC State

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According to CBSSports’ Jon Rotstein, Cincinnati Transfer Nysier Brooks (6’11″/240) is receiving interest from NC State.

Brooks isn’t a graduate transfer, so he would have to sit one year to play one year.

It honestly is an odd move that Brooks submitted his name to the Transfer Portal. He started all 35 games last year for the Bearcats, averaging 8.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He was named Cincinnati’s Defensive Player of the Year.

He’s already 22 years old, and would be 24 by the time he left college if he does in fact transfer.

The reason seems to be stemming from Mike Cronin being hired as UCLA’s coach, as well as a lack of relationship with new coach John Brannen. His Guardian expressed frustration on Twitter that Brannen hadn’t reached out to them yet, and they were leaving Cincinnati as a family.

While it would be huge to add someone of Brooks size and athletic ability, he would suck up 2 years of a scholarship, and only play one. That’s not a big deal if you don’t have anyone already sitting out a year, but Thomas Allen is already doing so. That would leave the Wolfpack with only 11 scholarship players next season.

With that being said, there is some speculation that Brooks could graduate in June, and become a Graduate Transfer.

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NC State is Recruiting Oakland Graduate Transfer Jaevin Cumberland

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According to Joe Giglio of the News & Observer, NC State is actively recruiting Oakland Graduate Transfer Jaevin Cumberland (6’3″/185).

On April 11th, news broke that Jaevin Cumberland would be transferring out of Oakland for his final year of eligibility.

To say that 2018-19 was a breakout season for Cumberland would be an understatement. After playing minimal minutes as a reserve his first two seasons, and redshirting his 3rd year on campus due to a chronic ankle injury, Cumberland started all 33 games for the Golden Grizzlies.

Sports Reference

Cumberland averaged 17.2 points and 3.5 assists this past season, shooting 40% from three-point land.

He took an official visit to Oregon this weekend.

With the exodus of Graduate Wyatt Walker this week, NC State now has 1 scholarship available for next season. Valparaiso Graduate Transfer Derrik Smits is on an official visit in Raleigh this weekend.

Senior Point Guard Markell Johnson is going through the NBA Draft process, and 2019 signee Jalen Lecque officially declared for the NBA Draft yesterday, with today’s deadline looming. Both Johnson and Lecque can end up in Raleigh next year if they go through the process and deem that to be their best situation. Obviously if they go pro, more scholarships will become available.

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