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One Word: NC State Men’s Basketball Thoughts

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The time is now for State’s men’s team and Coach Keatts. With the season about to tip-off, Vonwolf and Wolferetti break down what they think will happen.

 

Who is your breakout candidate of the year?

Vonwolf: Cam Hayes

Was going to say Hellems, but I think he’s more on people’s radars than Hayes. Cam has the opportunity to really take a massive step forward this season. He showed glimpses last year of being special, particularly towards the end of the season against Notre Dame and UVA. The problem was inconsistent scoring. Part cold streaks of shooting, part just the physical toll that it takes to play a season in the ACC.

Hayes has added muscle and a different mindset this year. I’d expect for him to elevate not only his shooting percentage but his assists per game. If we can get 10 pts | 8 ast | 8 boards out of our true point guard, we’ll be in a good spot.

 

Wolferetti: Terquavion Smith

When I’m projecting players, I’m always heavy on the intangibles and that’s why I’m going with the freshman shooting guard on this one. I know it’s risky to go with a freshman as a breakout candidate, but this kid is just built differently. He’s got elite-level confidence and feels like he’s ACC-ready. With his ability to score it, NC State’s need for scoring, I think Keatts has found the match made in heaven. I’m looking for Smith to average around 12 ppg this season

Who is going to struggle this year?

Vonwolf: Dereon Seabron

I don’t think he’ll play bad this year, but there are going to be too many “fine” games from a guy we need big minutes from. He’s rebounding vastly improved as the season went on, and without Fundy, he’ll be leaned on even more. But if he ends up floating around 7 pts | 7 boards a game, it’s just not going to cut it. Especially with more guys on this roster that fit into the “athletic length” category, need for him to be a solid player.

 

Wolferetti: Ernest Ross & Greg Gantt

I know this is a bummer, since these guys struggling means NC State has zero front-court depth, but I’m just calling it like I see it. Both of these guys are new to the ACC and both are long, versatile bigs who have good stretch skills but are unproven in the ACC. Look, if you watch enough ACC basketball you know that you either are an elite shooter, or you struggle to transition to the ACC. What that means is that if your shot is good enough that you don’t have to deal with physical play of the ACC, then you can skirt by. But if you are forced to mix it up in the middle, it almost always takes guys a while to get used to the physical play that the refs allow in this conference. Both Ross and Gantt have decent shots, but neither are good enough to live off of them. They’ll be forced to mix it up in the middle and I think there is going to be some growing pains there for sure.

 

Biggest game(s) this year?

Vonwolf: Back-to-back road games versus Louisville (1/12) and Duke (1/15)

By this point in the season, we’ll know if this team has what it takes or not. We’ll also either be on our 15th article about the future of Keatts or praising the swagger of this young squad. If they play well and consistent that first two months, these games become the springboard to make a run at securing tickets to the big dance. If the first two months are a struggle? These games become make or break for resume purposes. Even without a tip-off of the season, feels as though State needs to grab at least one of these.

Plus it’s our last game, maybe…who knows, against Coach K…would like to send him home with a nice L.

 

Wolferetti: Purdue (12/12 @ Brooklyn, NY)

Go ahead, hate me for not picking an ACC game, but this Purdue game, to me, will decide a lot. It’s going to NC State’s first matchup vs a ranked opponent most likely (they are #7 to start the season) and it’s going to dictate their season outlook. See, young teams aren’t really sure who they are. They only really are able to gauge themselves by what they are able to accomplish. That could be a good or a bad thing.

For NC state, I think it’ll be a good thing. They have some leadership to guide them (Hellems, Bates) but they also have a slew of confident freshmen who probably think they are going to be able to walk right into this conference and win every game they play, and guess what, early on in the season they probably will. But Purdue is that buzzsaw game. If State can beat upset Purdue, it will do all sorts of things for the confidence of this team rolling into ACC play. If they lose, then you have to hope the veterans are able to patch up the wound quickly, before they take on Miami just a week and a half later. Another loss to Miami, then this will be a team of shaken confidence early in the ACC schedule.

A lot rides on this Purdue game whether you like it or not.

 

What does State end up doing this season?

Vonwolf: 8th in ACC, Second Round NCAA

If this same team were competing against the ACC of last season, I’d have a lot more confidence. There are going to be games that are absolutely fun to watch, with speed, strength and energy. There are also going to be games where nobody is hitting, there’s zero inside presence and they get blown out. The reliance on Bates to stay health is scary, but it’s offset a bit by just how awesomely athletic this forward and guard group is. They’ll be a bubble team this year, sneak in and then survive a weird first round NCAAT game before closing out the season.

 

Wolferetti: 5th place ACC, Second Round NCAA

This team will figure it out. I think they have enough talent, depth, and size to really cause problems in the conference. I also think they’ll be able to shoot the ball a lot better than most think. With that and their length on defense, I think they really surprise some people. For this to happen, they’ll need someone to step up behind Manny Bates. It’s really important since the one area I do think this team has trouble is with rebounding.

That said, I think they shock people, finish 5th and then get hot in the first round of the NCAAs before being ousted by a big, physical group of veterans in round 2.

 

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NC State Basketball

Terquavion Smith and Greg Gantt take over NC State’s Instagram for the Day

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A couple of days ago, Terquavion Smith and Greg Gantt were handed the camera to show State fans just what gameday is like through the player’s eyes. The guys chronicle a day in the Bahamas as they participate in walkthroughs, downtime at the hotel and pregame shootaround.

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VIDEO: Inside Look at the workouts of NC State’s new 7 foot wing, Mady Traore

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A few days ago, we went into depth about NC State’s newest addition, 7-foot wing, Mady Traore. As we were doing our research, we came across a couple workout videos that were posted.

Watching his highlights from games is probably a better indicator of what we’ll see on the court come November. bit watching these workouts (which are kind of showcasing his skills without any defenders) give a better glimpse of his potential.

Enjoy!

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Sooo, let’s talk about the 7 foot wing who just committed to play for the Pack this season

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While everyone was focused on the upcoming football season, or discussing NC State basketball’s coming trip to the Bahamas, something happened.

NC State landed a commitment from 7-foot stretch forward, Mady Traore. And he’ll be eligible to play THIS season.

Surely, a guy committing this late in the process isn’t going to be a difference maker, right? It’s probably a guy no one has heard of. Someone who has slipped through the cracks.

But what if I told you that Taore, a French native (who has moved around quite a bit in recent years) had offers from Auburn, Kansas, Oregon, LSU, Arizona, Illinois, Florida, and many, many more.

Intrigued?

Well, we are. Especially after watching some of his recent film.

NC State got in on Traore late after seeing him at the NBA camp in early July. But the story is kind of strange because after coming over to America midway through high school, he really jumped around to different schools. Maybe he was trying to find a place where he’d be showcased? But either way, all the moving made it hard to keep track of him. The one connection he does have to the Pack is LJ Thomas. The NC State incoming freshman, Thomas, played for Bull City prep and during all his moving, Traore spent a small amount of time with the AAU team at one point.

Whatever the story is, Traore committed to NC State on July 29th.

Here he is talking to Pro Insights, explaining what Pack fans can expect of him.

Traore wasn’t on campus yet, so he couldn’t make the trip to the Bahamas with the team, but he should be ready to go when the team returns.

What can we expect?

Well, we’re not sure. It’s likely Traore won’t be in the main rotation to start the season, but it wouldn’t surprise me for him to start seeing minutes at some point this season. He is 7 feet tall and can guard almost any position.

So is he a project player? Depends on your definition of that. I think this kid has all the tools necessary to be an eventual NBA talent. The question is, can he put it all together? He needs to bulk up, get more physical and just get more experience at a high level.

He’s got a 7’3 wing span. He can shoot it. He’s athletic, shifty, and has great footwork and coordination for a 7-footer. His handle is a little suspect, but he seems to have a pretty good court IQ. He looks like a coachable kid with a high motor. Pair that with his God-given tools, and well, Keatts and company may have just snatched up an eventual elite level talent under everyone’s nose.

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Another double-double for Jack Clark as NC State rolls past PR 81-69

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NC State moves to 2-0 in the Bahamas after using a strong 4th quarter to come back and beat Puerto Rico 81-69.

If you haven’t been following, NC State is in the Bahamas for their summer exhibition trip. They won their first game against Bahama Select 92-81, using big games from Terquavion Smith (26 pts) and a double-double from LaSalle transfer Jack Clark (who had a 12 and 13 double-double).

This was a close one, with NC State losing after 3 quarters, 55-52. However, Clark went off for 8 points and 3 rebounds in the 4th, leading the Pack to the 12-point victory.

This was Clark’s second double-double in two games for NC State as he finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Without any media coverage, other than what the team is providing, we can’t see exactly how Clark is scoring, but from what we can piece together, he’s doing it in a variety of ways. For instance, in this game he knocked down SIX 3s.

It’s got to be a fluke if a guy show shot below 30% from long range last season is suddenly hitting his 3s, right? Well, not necessarily. Clark has great form and a smooth release. He was actually projected to be a very good shooter coming out of high school. During his freshman season he shot 41% from 3 (for context, Scott Wood shot 41% for his career at NC State). Clark then kind of lost his touch during the next two seasons, shooting 28% and 29% respectively. So we were waiting and watching to see which Jack Clark showed up for Kevin Keatts. At this point, it looks like he’s found his form and is back to being a quality shooter.

According to GoPack.com, Ole Miss transfer, Jarkell Joiner, also had his second good game in a row. After notching 14 points and 3 assist in game one, the grad senior followed it up 16 points and 5 assists in this one.

Terquavion Smith added 9 points and 4 steals (while missing a significant chunk of the game with a leg cramp), while Casey Morsell finished with 11 and DJ Burns dropped 12 (8 in the 4th quarter).

NC State shot 56.3 percent in the second half, and 64.2 percent from three-point range.

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