A couple of weeks ago we took a closer look into Shakeel Moore’s sneaky great season. We highlighted the fact that he ranked 16th in the nation in steal % and put together a very productive stat line for a 3-star prospect who many thought wouldn’t log major minutes during his freshman year.
At that end of that piece we noted the rumblings that Moore may be looking to transfer, but hoped that since he hadn’t done it yet, that he had a change of heart.
That wasn’t the case. This past Friday, Moore entered his name into the transfer portal, all but ending his tenure at NC State.
The initial response from most Pack fans was “Fine, if you don’t want to be here, then we don’t need you here.” But the truth is, this is going to hurt. In fact, if NC State doesn’t add another PG this offseason, the Pack will be faced with another year of limited depth at the position.
Let’s take a look at what the transfer really means for next season…
Cam Hayes has to carry the weight
Hayes came out of the game looking as advertised. The 6’3 PG was running the show, knocking down shots, and fitting nicely into Keatts system. Then came the COVID pause.
After the pause Hayes looked a little lost and began to see his minutes drop. However, after a few weeks and the Devon Daniels injury, Hayes was once again thrust into the spotlight. He didn’t disappoint.
Hayes had his ups and downs down the stretch, but for the most part, he was an integral part in State’s late surge. When he was playing well, NC State was winning. But when he was off, NC State sputtered.
Next season Keatts is going to need Hayes to be consistently productive. With Moore gone, the PG duties (at this point) are going to fall to Hayes and freshman PG Breon Pass. With an offseason of prep, we believe Hayes will be just fine and may be one of the Pack’s best scoring options on the perimeter. Pass, however, like any freshman, is a question mark.
Like Moore a year before, Keatts has been on record saying his freshman PG was the steal of the class, and watching the highlights most would agree.
Pass went from an unknown to a 4-star (on ESPN) prospect. His slick ball-handling and his ability to score started to turn heads on the NC high school circuit. And while he’s a physical kid (he was a D1 football recruit), he’s not that big. Coming in at 6’0, 175lbs, Pass will have to prove that his body is ready to go up against ACC-level guards.
That makes it even more important that Hayes shows up ready next season. He needs to put on more weight, and show a little more physicality if State is going to be a factor in the ACC. Had Moore stuck around, the duo would have given Keatts some nice depth and a couple of experienced PGs to steer the ship.
Keatts could add another guard
With Moore gone, NC State now has another scholarship to burn, and with a lot of options still out there in the portal, he’ll have the chance to bring in a PG to fill that slot. But who?
The best PG out there is former Minnesota Golden Gopher, Marcus Carr. Carr is a 6’2, 195lbs junior who would have two years of eligibility left and who is coming off a season where he scored 19 ppg and is probably the best guard on the board (he also COULD go pro).
With Hayes and Pass locked in at PG, Keatts could add a combo guard. Someone who could play the point in a pinch, but slots better in the SG role. Right now, SG is another need. You have Thomas Allen returning for his senior season, and you have a promising scorer in freshman Terquavion Smith, but Allen is a bit undersized and Smith hasn’t seen ACC competition yet.
This could open the door for Keatts to target a guy like 6’5 Bryce Thompson from Kansas. While he’s more of a SG, he can handle the ball, however, he’s more a ‘create for himself’ type guy. But again, if Hayes is hurt and pass can’t cut it yet, then you could do A LOT worse than Thompson. In fact, he would really fill a lot of holes for NC State, seeing as he could immediately start at SG and get PG minutes when needed. As we said, he’s 6’5, and in the ACC you can’t have enough tall, long guards (especially in a system like Keatts’.)
They could also look at 6’2 Jacob Young from Rutgers. He’s in the portal, but also contemplating the NBA draft. However, the 6’2 guard is more of a PG than a shooting guard and would replace the lefty Moore, with another Lefty. Young averaged 14 points and almost 4 assists last season. he’s a senior so you’d be only getting him for one year, but that’s really all NC State is needing at this point.
Another option would be to use Thomas Allen as your PG in a pinch and focus on adding a scoring guard. Keatts could target a guy like CJ Fredrick of Iowa. The 6’3 sophomore is online anyone NC State has on their roster. He’s not the most athletic kid out there, but he’s a physical player and man can he shoot it. Fredrick averaged 7 ppg and shot 47% from long range. The Pack hasn’t had a shooter like this since Scott Wood, and with the roster riddled with long athletes that have so-so shots, adding a pure shooter would be a huge gap filler. (however Kentucky thinks they’re going to get him)
If you go the SG route, your options start to open up as well. There’s Rocket Watts from MSU, another shooter in Jalen Coleman-Lands (Iowa State), or one of our sleeper favorites, the sneaky athletic, sharpshooting 6’5 Pelle Larsson of Utah who can really do it all.
Really at this point, it’s all speculation, but the staff knew Moore could pull the trigger at any moment, so there’s no doubt they have made some contact. It could be some of the guys listed. It could be a guy that hasn’t gone in the portal yet. At this point its still too early to know.
Whichever way Keatts plays it, if he can land one of these top guards to fill Moore’s spot, then NC State comes out ahead. If they can’t fill the slot or take someone to just fill a spot, then losing Moore is going to really hurt NC State next season.