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Pack in the Pros

Is Dennis Smith Jr making his final stand with Portland?

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Dennis Smith Jr. hasn’t really had the career we all envisioned.

The kid was an elite 5-star coming out of high school, came to State, put up numbers, but didn’t win anything. In fact, the 2016-17 Wolfpack team went 15-17, lost 7 straight ACC games in the middle of the season, and as the #13 seed was ousted by the #12 seed Clemson in round 1 of the ACC Tourny. But hey, he averaged 18 points, 6 assists, and 4 boards!

Then onto the NBA, where it looked like he had finally found his footing. He averaged 15 points, 5 assists, and 3 boards for the Mavs. In year two, he was traded to the Knicks halfway through the season but averaged 14 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds.

Then the wheels came off. Smith averaged 5 ppg the next season and was shooting just 34% from the field. Anyways, the next few seasons have been awful for Smith. He’s either been injured, benched, or just plain bad.

People thought maybe this year would be different. He was finally out of New York and in Portland around a more talented cast. And he’s played here and there, but really hasn’t done much in the reserve role.

However, this past Saturday, Smith Jr finally got the start in place of the injured Anfernee Simons, and he kinda went off.

Smith went for 21 points, 6 assists, 4 boards, 3 steals, and not a single turnover.

Then on Monday night, Smith played 39 minutes, scored 13 points on 6-11 shooting, was 1-1 from 3, and had 7 assists and 6 boards (however he did have 7 turnovers).

Unfortunately, they lost both of the games.

When Simmons comes back, Smith is back to the bench and if he keeps playing like he did over the past couple of games, he might remake himself into a quality backup PG in this league.

However, if he can’t keep it up, this might be his last stop. Smith has lost some of the top-tier level explosiveness he had earlier in his career. He doesn’t have elite vision as a PG, and he’s not a reliable shooter.

On the plus side, the kid is still just 24 years old, has a good handle, and great size. And heck, maybe this is the beginning of the DSJ resurgence?

…Or maybe it’s Dennis Smith’s last stand. We’ll have to wait and see.

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Pack in the Pros

Should Former NC State All-American Catcher Patrick Bailey be an NL All-Star?

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Former NC State All-American Catcher Patrick Bailey is having a great 2nd season in the Majors.

Bailey is batting .286 this season, which is a vast improvement to his .233 average as a Rookie last year. He already has 5 Home Runs in roughly half the at-bats as last season, when he hit 7. His plate discipline has improved, striking out less and walking more. Bailey is on pace to strike out around 30 times less than last year, and is 1 Walk away from tying his total from last year.

Despite not having flashy offensive numbers in 2023, Bailey made a name for himself behind the plate. He currently ranks 1st in the National League in Framing, 2nd in Putouts and 2nd in Pop Time.

Overall, he has the 3rd highest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of any Catcher in the National League.

As things currently stand, Bailey doesn’t rank in the Top-5 in All-Star voting, but it’s criminal that Sean Murphy (Braves) and J.T. Realmuto (Phillies) have so many more votes.

Last year, 3 catchers made the All-Star team, so Go Vote for Bailey!

 

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Former NC State Running Back Ricky Person Signs with the Seattle Seahawks

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After leading the UFL in Rushing Touchdowns this past season, former NC State Running Back Ricky Person has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

Person joins former High School (Heritage High School) and College (NC State) teammate Drake Thomas (LB) in Seattle.

After rushing for 1,979 yards and 14 touchdowns at NC State, Person went undrafted, but signed as an Undrafted Free Agent with the Baltimore Ravens, but was eventually waived due to an undisclosed injury.

For the past two seasons, Person has played for the Birmingham Stallions, which was in the USFL in 2023, and the UFL this past season. In 2023, he only rushed the ball 14 times, but this past season, he rushed for 297 yards and 6 touchdowns, and also had 150 receiving yards. This year, Person was elemental in helping lead the Stallions to the USFL 2024 Championship.

 

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Pack in the Pros

Former NC State All-American SS Trea Turner Picks Up 2 Hits in Return from IL

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Former NC State All-American Shortstop Trea Turner returned from the Injured List last night, going 2 for 5 from the plate with 1 Run.

Turner has been out since early May with a hamstring strain (missing 38 games), but prior to injury, he was playing about as good as anyone in the league. He is batting .345.

As of yesterday, Turner is 2nd in the National League in All-Star voting for Shortstops, trailing only Mookie Betts, who is running away with 1st place. He has made the All-Star team twice before (2021, 2022)

Turner was a 2-time All-American at NC State. In 2012, Turner was named 3rd Team All-American by NCBWA, and in 2013 he was named 2nd Team by Collegiate Baseball, and 3rd Team by NCBWA and Baseball America.

His 113 career stolen bases at NC State are the most in school history. Turner was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 1st Round with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.

Trea is easily the best Major League batter to ever come out of NC State. Out of all the Wolfpack players to make it to the MLB, he ranks 1st in Hits (1,252), Runs (716), Doubles (236), Home Runs (152), RBI’s (519), Stolen Bases (270) and Walks (322).

 

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DJ Burns talks keys to recent weight loss during Pre-Draft Workout with Pacers

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Pack fans have been wondering how after 2 years in Raleigh, DJ Burns finally figured out how to drop weight, and keep it off. He spoke to reporters during his pre-draft workout with the Pacers.

“Playing at the pace we played today. Doing the work we did today. I probably would have left out with a full body cramp a couple months ago.”

“Keep on improving my pace. Adjusting to the level and speed I’m going to have to play at, at all times.”

“Lots of running. Lots of figuring out which foods I can no longer have, which were almost all of them that I liked. So, just finding new ones that I do like that go along with the plan.”

“This is the third (workout), and I actually travel to Milwaukee tomorrow to workout with the Bucks. And then some more stuff being confirmed that I won’t speak on just yet.”

Burns has worked out for the Lakers, Pacers and Hornets up to this point.

Plus more…

Listen to the full interview above.

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