When news broke that State’s three seniors (Perez, Jones, and Crutchfield) were returning, WPN thought immediately about running it all back again next year. Then Moore flipped the switch of the Wolfpack machine from “Great” to “Monsters of the East”.
Best situation possible or a logistical nightmare?
Not only did Moore go out and find stud players, but he has them with three years of eligibility remaining… which is CRAZY.
Madison Hayes was the first pickup. SEC All-Freshman team, the 6-foot guard played significant minutes for Miss State. Formerly the #7 Guard in ESPNs 2020 class, she averaged close to 5 pts, 5 rebs and 1 ast a game. While the numbers don’t jump off the page, her speed and toughness allowed her to excel on the defensive side. Think of her as a taller, younger version of Crutchfield.
Diamond Johnson was the other major transfer for State. B10 All-Freshman team and 2nd Team All-B10, Johnson was a force for Rutgers last season. Averaging nearly 18 points and 4 rebounds, she left high school as the 6th best recruit in the Nation. Moore feel in love with her ability to push the ball and stretch defenses. Think of her as a score-first Perez.
Both made All-Freshman teams in solid, Power 5 conferences. They both were highly ranked out of high school and succeeded at the college level. Both will be with State for years and allow for perfect transitioning out of current seniors.
Moore hit a gold mine with these two.
You could honestly build two competitive rosters from just this one State team.
Team Red Starters: Perez | Crutchfield | Brown-Turner | Boyd | Cunane
Team White Starters: Johnson | Bryant | Hayes | Jones | Hobby
I mean, come on. Your “second” team lineup has the new All-Freshman selections, Jones as an All-ACC member and a vastly improving Hobby inside. Furthermore, haven’t even brought up the incoming freshmen, James and Hart, the latter could be the next Cunane. That lineup alone might get you wins against half the country.
The best part of this team, is Moore has players for every scenario. Need more scoring punch? Boyd and Johnson come in. Need defense and rebounding? Crutchfield, Hayes and Jones step forward. The question isn’t does State have weapons…it’s whether there is enough minutes in a game to make everyone happy.
The Tall Task that Moore and Staff Face
Moore won Coach of the Year for his ability to improve players across the board and for his in-game adjustments. Now he has a new “hurdle” to overcome; How to make everyone happy.
I’m going to guess when he had conversations with all parties, that it was understood that something special was happening in Raleigh. You don’t win back-to-back ACC titles and grab your first 1-seed without complete buy-in. But the fact still remains, State now has 10 legitimate players that need minutes.
Would guess that two scenarios happen from day one. First, Boyd and Jones times become near equal, if not Boyd getting some extra minutes. Coming off her Sixth Player of the Year award, it’s hard to believe that Boyd still doesn’t have at least one or two more gears to go. If the NCAAT was any indication, getting 18 points per game while shooing 60%, she has a chance for bigger things her junior year.
Second, would be the transition of time between Crutchfield, Hayes and Johnson. As mentioned before, have to believe all will know their roles between veteran crunch time, defensive pushes and offensive needs. Crutchfield should still see decent time, but hard to believe it will be remotely close to the 34 minutes per game she saw last year.
Don’t expect the returning seniors to be kicked to the curb, but it will be interesting how Moore positions the school for future success. If done to perfection, seniors play a role to continue the growth seen over the last three seasons. New sophomores mesh and eventually becomes stars in their own time. The middle group of Cunane, Brown-Turner and Boyd officially get all the national praise they deserve.
It’s a good problem to have for Moore and he most certainly won’t shy away from the opportunity. State has never had this amount of depth, talent and vision for success at any point in school history.
State is ready for the next level.