There were a lot of questions coming into this season for Kevin Keatts and the Wolfpack. One of those questions was ‘Who is going to replace the scoring of Markell Johnson and CJ Bryce?’
Within the first minute, Devon Daniels had an answer for you.
Whether or not the 5th year senior is going to end up being State’s go-to scorer is obviously yet to be seen, but there is no doubt he wants to be that guy.
In only 30 minutes, Daniels lit up Charleston Southern for 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals. He was 11-16 from the field and 4-5 from 3 point range.
Honestly, it was quite the performance and was an absolute statement on who he expects to be for the Pack and the level of his confidence coming into this season.
As for the rest of the team, it looks as if they’re going to have more than enough talent to be contenders at the top of this conference. However, the question remains on whether they’ll be poised enough and experienced enough to sustain success in the ACC with so much youth.
Here is our take on what we saw last night…
DJ Funderbuerk– The senior big man was as advertised. Fundy finished with 10 points on 4-7 shooting and brought down a couple of boards in 21 minutes. That stat line is nothing new. The guy is always efficient and almost always finished with too few attempts. If State is going to be successful, Funderburk’s usage is going to have to mirror Daniels in terms of shot attempts. Daniels had a big night last night, but in the long run both players will be much better with a more balanced attack.
Braxton Beverly– He looks healthy and he looks like he has his shot back. Those were the only two questions about the senior coming into this game. He’s going to log major minutes, he’s going to lead by example and he’s going to be State’s go-to shooter. Last night he looked the part and barring any setback, we believe Beverly is set to have a career year.
Thomas Allen- The transfer from Nebraska started for the Pack, but only logged 18 minutes. With freshman Cam Hayes showing he can handle the point, Allen is going to be battling for minutes with Beverly a lot this season. They say Allen is a true 3 level-scorer, but I’d probably say he’s realistically more of a 2 level scorer because of his height/athleticism. He’s a guy who is going to have some big games, and when he gets more comfortable playing in this system, he’s going to really show you what he’s capable of doing on the offensive end. In this game he looked a little timid and just couldn’t find his shot early on (which is expected in game one with a new team.)
Manny Bates- First off, Bates looks huge. He put on major muscle this offseason and is going to be a force in the paint for sure, but last night he only finished with 4 points, 2 blocks, and 2 boards in 13 minutes. But you have to take into consideration the context. Charleston Southern is a small team that spreads it out. They aren’t trying to get to the rim and if they drive they are mostly throwing up floaters. This wasn’t a ‘Manny Bates’ game. He’s going to show his true value in games with bigger, more physical teams who are looking to get to the rack and score it.
Cam Hayes- This is the guy we really had our eye on. With Markell gone, Keatts is going to have to rely on Hayes as his PG if they are going to compete in the ACC. Can Hayes handle it? I know it’s game one, but I’ll just save you the drama. The answer is yes. His poise, body control, and ability to shift gears mid-stride are all things you look for in a guard at this level. He’s going to be a star for NC State and it may only take him a quarter of the season to make that clear. He finished last night with 4 points, 4 assists, and 4 steals.
Jericole Hellems- Watching Hellems last year, it’s easy. to see that this kid loves competition. He loves the spotlight and crowd energy really gets his motor revved up. So we were interested to see how he’d handle playing in an empty gym. Early on Hellems really wanted to get himself going, to the point that he seemed to force it a little much. As usual in this game, the more you force, the worse it gets. Missed shots compounded into turnovers, compounded into a little lack of focus on defense. However, all it took was a shot from the left corner to finally. drop to change everything. Suddenly Hellems was making plays on both ends of the court and looking comfortable in the offense. I think early this season there is going to be a learning curve for Hellems playing in empty gyms, but once he settles in, he’ll be back to being one of Keatts main pieces and a huge part of this basketball team.
Shakeel Moore- Huge upside here. Moore got 15 minutes of floor time and rewarded Keatts with 9 points, 4 steals and 3 boards. This kid is high energy, active on defense and always putting pressure on the defense with his quickness and athleticism. This is the type of kid Keatts loves. He isn’t particularly polished offensively, but he is extremely physical and tough as nails.
Dereon Seabron– This redshirt freshman was a kid we were looking forward to seeing. At 6’7 he has great handles, is slippery on his drives to the hoop, can get up and down the court, and can finish around the rim. He’s still a little raw for sure, but he showed. you in this game that when he starts to get comfortable and when Keatts really learns how to use him, he’s going to be a valuable asset to this team. In 15 minutes he was 3-3 from the field for 7 points. He was a recipient of two Cam Hayes finds on the break, previewing a freshman connection in the making.
* Dowuona and Gibson are big bodies but still look like works in progress. If we see major contributions from them it won’t be until the latter part of the season.
* Nick Farrar was held out with an injury.
Overall – NC State looked like a team with a ton of talent that is learning to play together…because, well, that’s what they are. Keatts will be happy with the fact that they created 32 turnovers and the fact that they got a slew of deflections, thanks to very active hands on defense and I think he’ll be happy bout his team’s half court defense in the second half.
I believe he’ll be trying to sure up shot selection with this group. They did take a lot of quick shots that weren’t in the flow of the offense, but as with any team who hasn’t played much together, this is to be expected early on. It’s on Keatts to fix this in the film room and on the practice floor.
At the end of the day, this was definitely a positive outing for the Pack and nice to get such a commanding win where everyone got a chance to contribute.