Who is Greg Gantt Jr?
Well, if. you’ve been following along, he’s NC State’s newest 6’8 PF from Providence College (via the transfer portal).
But who is he, really? And why did Kevin Keatts just use a roster spot on a kid that averaged 4 points, 3 boards, and 1.7 assists in the Big East?
What happened at Providence?
For this, we need to do a deeper dive and go back to 2019. That is when Gantt was rated as the 67th best player in the nation and the 3rd best in North Carolina. He was a 4-star recruit being courted by the likes of Alabama, Cincinnati, Providence, and Clemson. He eventually chose Providence because he thought it was a good fit and he could step right in and make a difference immediately.
However, that didn’t happen.
Coming into his freshman season Gantt suffered an Achilles injury which sidelined him all fall. He missed all but 2 practices leading up to the season and when he returned it took him a while to really get comfortable and confident again. During that season he also lost his mother, making the transition to college even rougher. Gantt averaged just 12 minutes per game in his freshman season, scoring 2 points and, grabbing 2 rebounds per game. However, his coach believed he was primed for a big sophomore season.
“I’m expecting a really, really big sophomore jump from him this year.” Providence head coach Ed Cooley said in 2020.
But that was before we knew COVID would shut down the entire off-season. The time when Gantt was supposed to earn his spot and work his way into the Friar lineup, was canceled. This past season, Gantt never really found his footing and despite an increase in playing time, was never able to meet expectations as he went on to average 4 points, 3 boards and 1.7 assists in 21 minutes of play.
So after two years of college basketball, Greg Gantt Jr. has never really had a normal off-season. He’s never had time to learn a system or work through inconsistencies. Almost all of his learning has come during game time. That is one reason some believe he hasn’t quite taken off yet, and why Keatts may have found a hidden gem.
What are coaches and scouts saying about him?
Now, we trust Kevin Keatts, and the film doesn’t lie. This kid has tons of upside and a very versatile skillset. But was it just the missed offseasons? Or was it something else? Did he not work hard? Were the coaches not as high on him as the scouts? Again, we went searching.
What we found is the opposite. The coaches loved this kid coming out of high school. Some said he was a future pro, others thought he’d be college star, and his own coach even had high hopes for him coming into his freshman season.
“He’s one of these gifted athletes. He has an ‘it’ factor. He’s got an active body, a live body.” said Cooley, early in Gantt’s career.
“Gantt was always productive. He made his way on the court early because of his defense and versatility on that end,..Around Gantt’s sophomore year, you started to see the light click on. Opposed to being a switchable defensive four-man, he worked hard on his ball skills to transition to a three-man. He was a process, but Gantt is a ridiculously hard worker.”” said Jamie Shaw of PhenomHoopsReport.com.
“He is a high-level defender. He can guard the perimeter or switch on to the block. He is strong and lengthy, he can move his feet. It would not surprise me to see him be an all-league type of defender for multiple years.” Shaw noted to Friarbasketball.com
The more we read about Gantt, the more video we watched, the more we saw what Keatts saw. A kid who had the skill, had the character, had the work ethic, but just hadn’t put it together yet.
Now because of COVID rules, Gantt has 3 years of eligibility left at NC State and a (hopefully) full offseason to get acclimated to his new team and his new system.
What do the Providence fans think of him?
We had to look one more place before posting this. You know what his coaches are going to say.
The Providence coaches are going to be PC and say he was a good kid and they hope the best for him. The NC State coaches are going to rave about his potential and how well he’s going to fit. The scouts are going to kind of do what we’re doing…gather as much info as they can on a kid they’ve never seen play live at the college level, and come up with some sort of opinion on him.
And you know what, that’s good enough for an article. We, however, wanted to go a little deeper.
We wanted the REAL take on Greg Gantt Jr.
We wanted the unfiltered truth. So we went to the depth of the internet. A place where identities are cloaked and opinions aren’t censored. We went to his former team’s fan message boards and we braced ourselves. Surely, they’d be sour at the transfer and point out all of his shortcomings, all of the rumors surrounding him, and why he never became what they thought he’d become.
But well, we didn’t find any of that. In fact, almost all of the commentators wished him well, said he was a good kid, a hard worker and that he simply didn’t fit Cooly’s system. Here, see for yourself…
What can we expect?
So what is not to like about this pickup by Kevin Keatts?
He’s got a kid that works hard, is 6’8, a great defender can guard multiple positions, can shoot it, and handles it well on the perimeter. The scouts, coaches and fans all like him, and NC State was in desperate need of depth in their frontcourt.
It seems as if the feeling is that Gantt really just had a few false starts. The Achilles injury, being away from home, and losing a close family member, missing your entire freshman year preseason, COVID canceling your off-season and sophomore year preseason. Then there was the mismatch of him playing in an offensive system that was forced to play very slow despite his game being suited for uptempo and open court play.
Put that together and it gives you a reason to believe that Greg Gantt Jr is just a solid offseason and the right system away from breaking out as a star.
Keatts sure thinks so, but we’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to cover the transfer portal and any moving on NC State roster. We have reason to believe there are still a few moves to be made. Stay tuned.