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NC STATE BASKETBALL PREVIEW | The Guards

NC State Basketball

NC STATE BASKETBALL PREVIEW | The Guards

NC STATE BASKETBALL PREVIEW | The Guards

We are now a week away from the season-opening exhibition game, so like every year, we’re going to go position by position and player by player to give you our thoughts on this year’s team.

In our first installment, we’ll take a look at…

The Guards

Cam Hayes (Sophomore, PG)

Cam Hayes is no stranger to Wolfpack Nation. Last year, as a freshman, he was thrust into a prominent role after Devon Daniels went down with a knee injury. And while he never really found true consistency, he did show a lot of flashes of what he can do. He finished the season as the starting PG, averaging almost 8 ppg and 3 assists.

What to expect:
Having a year under your belt in the ACC is always a huge plus, but Hayes never really had a true preseason thanks to the COVID protocols in place last year. Now, with a full off-season and no question about his role with the team, Hayes should be able to finally show what he’s capable of. He’s added some noticeable muscle to his frame, so you can expect to see him more confident getting into the lane to make plays. He will also be one of the better options from long range for NC State this season. He shot 36% last year, which is fine, but he’s a better shooter than that and we believe he’ll be hovering around 38-40% this season.

The Questions:
As with any sophomore, there are going to be questions, but for a sophomore PG who is being looked to as the floor general, there are even more. For one, will Hayes feel comfortable stepping up as a vocal leader on the floor? And two, will the added bulk allow Hayes to get into the lane, stay balanced on contact, and make plays? This one here is big. Last year Hayes did most of his scoring from outside and on jumpers. This year he needs to show that he can get to the rim, absorb contact, and either finish or make the right pass. Getting to the hoop isn’t hard for him (he’s quick and he’s 6’3), but finishing through contact and staying in control on the drive has been a struggle. We hope the added size will be the difference-maker for him.

Predictions:
We think Hayes takes a huge leap forward this season. While there will likely still be some growing pains as a sophomore, we believe you’ll see a much more confident guard and that will expose some facets of his game we didn’t get to see last year. We do think he still has work to do as an on the floor leader, and that will also show (especially early in the season), but we also predict he’ll be a more versatile scorer from all 3 levels, and will become one of NC State’s go-to guys as the season progresses.

 


Thomas Allen (Senior, SG)

Thomas Allen transferred in from Nebraska and last year NC State fans finally got to see what he offers. Sadly, they didn’t get a great look. Allen never really got his footing early last season and just as he was starting to show glimpses, he was hurt in mid-February and never returned. This year, he’ll be key piece for Keatts, both as a potential starting 2-guard and as a 3rd string PG behind Hayes and Pass.

What to expect:
Allen isn’t big at 6’1, but he’s quick, athletic, and can score it. Unfortunately, last year he never really found his scoring touch. Sure, he had a couple of big games when his 3 was falling (he shot 37% for the year from long range), but everything else was constantly rattling out. He was a fierce defender on the ball and is always hustling, so we think you see that again this year. However, we also think you’ll see that scoring touch come back.

The Questions:
The question for Allen is where he fits in. He’s going to play a lot of minutes, but it’s unclear on what his role will be. I think a lot of that depends on how well Terquavion Smith acclimates to the ACC and how well Allen is shooting it. If Smith comes on strong, then as Keatts has hinted, he may get the starting nod at the 2 spot, making Allen the first guard off the bench (most likely). Keatts finally has a roster to play long and athletic, so I think he’s going to want to try to do that, but if Allen can really get the scoring going, we’re sure Keatts will trade off a few inches for a bundle of buckets.

Predictions:
This is a tough one. As we mentioned, a lot depends on the freshman Terquavion Smith. However, we predict that Allen and Smith battle for minutes all season long with the winner being more based on daily matchup and hot hand. We also think some depends on Casey Morsell, who could steal minutes at the 2 if Ernest Ross or Greg Cantt show the need to be on the floor more. As for Allen, he should increase his shooting percentage, but will potentially see his minutes cut at times because of size alone and the fact that defensively, Keatts is going to want to go big.

 

 

Casey Morsell (Junior, G)

The Virginia transfer didn’t light the world on fire in his two seasons with the Cavs, but coming out of high school he was a star on both ends of the floor and Keatts is hoping he can find that level of success again. He will likely slot in at the 2 and 3 spots for NC State.

What to expect:
Morsell is a Keatts guy and he’s going to get minutes. That’s not a prediction, that’s an expectation. Morsell is probably going to be one of State’s best defensive players and if he can get his old form back on offense and re-find his shooting touch, he’s going to be a huge part of this Wolfpack team. Look for Morsell to get major minutes and become a leader on this team right off the bat.

The Questions:
Offense. Look, Morsell was a starter as a freshman for UVA before his offense forced him to the bench. And if he’s a good enough defender to start for Tony Bennett, then he’s going to be pretty darn good for NC State. The question remains, however, if he’ll be able to find his offensive touch again. If he can, then he’s a superstar for Keatts. If he can’t then he’ll still see minutes because of his size, physicality and defense, but he won’t be the leader and star he could be.

Predictions:
We believe in Morsell. We think he’s going to be a big part of this NC State team. We also think he’s going to make a big jump in offensive numbers. The way Keatts wants to play is a lot like Morsell played in high school and we think that’s going to make all the difference. If Morsell is who we think he is, by season’s end he’ll be, not just a glue guy, but an elite defender, a team leader and a cornerstone on this ball club.

 

 

Terquavion Smith (Freshman, SG)

Terquavion Smith is a 6’4 scoring guard who just wins. With back-to-back state titles, Smith is coming in with elite-level confidence combined with true scoring ability. He will see all his time at the 2, and may be a starter from day 1.

What to expect:
You can expect Smith to come in hot. By that we mean he’s going to come in with zero fear and he’s going to come in with a ton of energy. Smith can be a little flashy, and he can at times take some ill-advised shots, but let me tell you, this kid has true confidence in himself. He believes he should be starting, and he believes he can be one of the better scorers on this ball club. You can expect him to play like he belongs every time he’s on the floor.

The Questions:
Big questions for Smith are going to be his maturity. He’s a coachable kid, but what we’re talking about is shot selection and picking his spots. Will he be able to play within the offense without getting too antsy and wanting to make things happen (he had to do that throughout his entire HS career)? Will he be able to handle the bumps in the road that he will certainly encounter during his freshman season? Will he be able to translate his scoring ability to the college level right away? Will his thin frame limit what he can do at this level?

Predictions:
Keatts keeps hinting that Smith could start this year. Does that mean right off the bat? We don’t think so. We think it’s going to be Thomas Allen, but we also think as Terquavion gets comfortable, he takes the reins and runs with it. He’s going to have some BIG TIME moments this season. He’s going to put up some big scoring games, but he’s also going to run into a few things that slow him down. Keatts will have to make sure he’s not taking poor shots and he’s going to have to make sure he monitors his emotions as he is a kid who wears them on his sleeve.

 

Breon Pass (Freshman, PG)

Breon Pass is a former 2-sport star in HS (basketball and football). He comes in as a 4-star recruit who surged in the rankings late last season. He’s just 6 feet tall, but he’s a very physical, very talented guard who has great body control, great vision, a solid shot, and a knack for scoring.

What to expect:
Pass is going to eventually become Cam Hayes’ backup at the PG position, however, early in the season, you may see Keatts opt to use Thomas Allen in this role from time to time until Pass is ready. However, since Allen is more of a shooting guard by trade, the pressure will be on Pass to transition to the college game fast. You can expect to see him get his chances early on to see how he deals with this level of talent and size.

The Questions:
Freshman PGs have a steeper learning curve than anyone else, however, Pass is a high IQ kid who likely will be faster to pick things up than most. The question for Pass will be how fast is he able to make that transition? He’s got the speed, the physicality, and the scoring ability, but he’s small and he’s a freshman. He will become a key player for NC State eventually, but a lot depends on how fast he’s able to make that jump.

Predictions:
Pass will be given every opportunity to earn his spot at the backup PG early in the season and we think he’ll have a great showing. In fact, we think Pass will have a great start to the season for NC State when given minutes, however, we also think he’ll see a bit of regression when ACC play starts. At 6 feet, he’ll have to adjust to a more physical game with guards usually a lot taller than him. His athleticism and speed will help him not be fully over-matched and his physicality will as well, however we do think he’ll need time to adjust. We think it will be a bit of a roller coaster for Pass this season, with early highs, mid-season lows, and then a spike in play towards the end of the season.

**We will be categorizing Dereon Seabron as a forward and will be writing up his preview when we take a look at the Forwards. 

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Papajohn
1 month ago

It would have been nice if you had acknowledged Alex Nunnally, a new name on the roster that few, if any, of us have heard of. He’s listed as a guard. He must be a walk on since no one has mentioned him.

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