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Shaq, Valvano and the 1991 National Champion Wolfpack



Most times when you dive into the world of hypotheticals, it gets messy. There ends up being wild exaggerations, misinformation or scenarios that are purely unfathomable.

“But…you’re talking about Shaq and a National Championship run…how are you not getting caught in the weeds?”

Let’s break it down, piece by piece, and allow me to show how it would have been plausible to put together a monster State team for the 1990-91 season.


Overview of Actual Season

That year, the Wolfpack finished 20-11 overall with an 8-6 ACC record. Rodney Monroe was ACC Player of the Year, while Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta were All-ACC 2nd Team. In short, the structure was set.

Duke would end up winning it all with Hurley and Christian F*cking Laettner. So yes, competitive ACC year, but it gives us a good barometer to see how far the Pack could have gone. So let’s jump right into it.



That year was Les Robinson’s first year as head coach, as Valvano “moved” to the broadcast booth. After Monroe and Corchiani graduate, the following years display Robinson’s coaching ability, or lack there of. Take out that 20-11 season and Les Robinson goes 58-86 over the next five, never getting above .500 in overall or ACC play. Let’s just say Valvano isn’t “dismissed” and stays through Monroe and Corchiani’s graduation. I can guarantee you, at the very least, a two-point swing per game with him as decision maker.

State gains one of the best coaches in the nation and a two point per game swing.


Guard Play

When your nicknames are “Fire and Ice”, you better be damn good. And they were… The duo of Monroe and Corchiani was electric and single-handedly willed that team to multiple victories.

Monroe had a brilliant season and took home ACC POY honors as he put up 27 points a game. His 836 total points put him at 5th in the nation. Even more impressive, and something we’ll touch on in a bit, he lead the Conference in three-pointers. So not only was he flying down the court in transition, but he was spreading the floor, as well. Monroe was so good, we thought he’d be a sure fire State Mount Rushmore guy.

Corchiani also had an amazing year. In addition to 16 points, he dished double digit assists per game. That year he was first in the ACC for both steals (91) and assists (299), both nationally ranked him in top ten.

State has the ACC’s best scorer and 3-point shooter, along with the best steal and assist man.



Bryant Feggins and Tom Gugliotta were solid role players for the Pack that season.

Gugliotta put up 15 points and 9 boards a game, while shooting 50% from the field. That year he was good enough to crack the All-ACC second team, matching fellow GT forward Malcolm Mackey and under 1st Team Forward, UNC’s Rick Fox. Not bad company.

Feggins is the quiet role player in this situation. A quality season for the sophomore at 13 points and five boards. His best season was by far 90-91, which makes this dream scenario even more plausible.

State has the second most productive and reliable Forward pairing outside of UNC’s Fox and Chilcutt.



Kevin Thompson…I hate to do this to you. It just so happens that the position Shaq would play, was the weak link of the 90-91 squad. While he greatly improved for his junior and senior season, the sophomore year was less than ideal. Thompson put up eight points and eight boards per game. Out of the 27 regular season games that year, Thompson finished as leading rebounder only eight times. Worst yet, half of those games yielded single digit rebounds. When your Center is struggling to do the one thing he’s on the floor to do, that’s a problem.

State’s weakness is not having an above average Center that can score and rebound.



Here. We. Go. I’m as giddy to type this as I am to dream about it again tonight. Your first question/concern is if State was ever even on Shaq’s radar.

They most definitely were.

In an interview with Dan Patrick three years ago, Shaq was asked if there was any other schools outside of LSU that he came close to attending.

“North Carolina State . . . I really respected Jim Valvano, and as you know…they had the original Shaq…Charles Shackleford.  That’s where I got my name and my identity from.  So I was actually wanting to play behind him, but I said, “You know what?  I’m gonna be my own Shaq and I’m gonna just take it down to Baton Rouge… ”

Good God. The only reason was his idol was there and he didn’t want to follow? Maybe there was also underlying concern of playing time or Valvano’s career coming to an end? Regardless, Shaq wasn’t too far away from being part of the Pack.

Now let’s layout Shaq’s 1990-91 sophomore season (if you’re keeping tabs, Thompson and Shaq were the same class and a perfect switch for this scenario), his averages per game were:

27.6 Points, 14.7 Rebounds, 5 Blocks, 1.5 Steals

*Insert exploding head gif*


Now of course, everything ran through Shaq at LSU. Can’t expect him to put up the same numbers on this Wolfpack team. But with Thompson’s poor stats, Shaq would improve them dramatically. Let’s just be conservative and say Shaq gets a dozen boards a game (+4 than Thompson) and scores 16 points a game (+8 than Thompson). You could then say, he alters State’s scoring and/or defense by an even plus 10 per game.

State would have the ACC’s leading blocker and rebounder, while gaining ten points a game.


With +2 for Valvano and +10 from Shaq, my public school education tells me that per game, State’s totals change by a dozen. Here is their full schedule from that year.


They beat #4 Syracuse…East Tennessee State…Kansas…Maryland…#7 Duke…Wake Forest


State now has a record of 26-5, 11-3 in ACC. Meaning that they are floating around the top-five in the country and win the ACC. In other words, they flip with the eventual National Champion Duke Blue Devils.


Tournament Time

State would murder Louisiana-Monroe in first round, then have a slow start against grinders Iowa, before pulling away in the second round. They would win comfortably, as Duke did, against Connecticut and St John’s heading into the Final Four.

There they would meet UNLV. No easy task with the success the Runnin’ Rebels had in the early 90’s. But here’s the thing, State would be matched up perfectly with them. Wouldn’t back down physically with Forward and Center play, and Monroe and Corchiani had the motor to go all damn night. It’d be close, but they’d pull it off.

In the National Championship they’d face Kansas, a team they already played and beat. Like most championship games, it’d be a nail biter.

Envision State up by three…Kansas with the ball…Jayhawk three-point attempt goes in and out…Shaq with the rebound…foul…hits one of two…full court chuck goes well wide…

Your 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champions…The Wolfpack of NC State.


Passionate State fan that just wants to anything...

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2 years ago

Probably the biggest fantasy in all of that is Shaq hitting 1 of 2 freethrows.

2 years ago

Holy cow!!!! Mind blown

NC State Basketball

NC State’s 2023-23 Men’s Basketball Schedule Has Arrived



NC State’s 2023-24 Men’s Basketball schedule has arrived!

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NC State Basketball

NC State to Honor David Thompson with Statue Outside Reynolds Coliseum



RALEIGH – NC State University will pay tribute to three-time All-American David Thompson with a statue sculpted in his honor that will be placed outside of Reynolds Coliseum.

The unveiling will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, the day of the Wolfpack men’s basketball team’s annual Heritage Game at Reynolds Coliseum, and will be open to the public.

“This is such a deserved honor for the greatest basketball player to ever wear an NC State jersey,” NC State Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan said. “He is one of the most iconic players to ever play in the ACC and our hope is that this statue will ensure that generations of NC State students and fans will always remember the legacy and contributions of David Thompson.”

Thompson is widely recognized as one of the greatest players in college basketball history. A 2008 ESPN story ranked him as one of the ten best college basketball players of all-time, and he is regarded as one of greatest athletes in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

The Boiling Spring, N.C., native played three seasons at NC State from 1972-75 and was a unanimous first-team All-American at the conclusion of all three seasons. He was also named the ACC Player of the Year all three seasons.

He was named the Associated Press National Player of the Year in 1974 and 1975 and remains one of just five players in college basketball history to win multiple AP National Player of the Year honors.

Thompson immediately made his mark on the Pack, helping lead NC State to an undefeated season (27-0) in 1973. The Pack dominated the 1972-73 season and was at the top or near the top of the polls all season as Thompson averaged 24.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Thompson returned in the 1973-74 season and led the Wolfpack to a 30-1 record and the school’s first NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball National Title.

In the Final Four, Thompson and the Wolfpack met up with UCLA, the seven-time reigning National Champions and the only team to have defeated NC State that season. The Pack trailed 74-67 in the second overtime when Thompson’s heroics helped lead NC State back. Thompson pulled down a defensive rebound and made the go-ahead basket with under one minute remaining and then made two free throws with 38 seconds to go to give the Pack a 78-75 double overtime win in a game that is still considered one of the greatest Final Four games ever played.

Thompson finished the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Bill Walton and the Bruins.
Two nights later, the Pack won the National Title over Marquette, 76-64, behind 21 points from Thompson. Thompson was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

To make it into the NCAA Tournament, the Pack defeated fourth-ranked Maryland, 103-100, in overtime in the 1974 ACC Championship, in a game that is routinely considered one of the best games in college basketball history.

As a senior, Thompson averaged 29.9 points, still the highest single season average in NC State history. He scored an NC State and ACC record 57 points in an early season win over Buffalo State. The Pack started the season ranked No. 1 in the nation and never fell out of the top-10, but lost in the ACC Championship game to end its season. The Pack finished the season ranked seventh in the nation but because the NCAA Tournament at that time only allowed the conference champion into the tournament its season was over.

Thompson closed his career with 2,309 points in 86 career games. He led the ACC in scoring all three seasons and was NC State and the ACC’s career scoring leader when he graduated.

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Former NC State Basketball Player Torin Dorn Joins Coaching Staff of G-League SLC Stars



Former NC State basketball player Torin Dorn has joined the staff of the Salt Lake City Stars, the G-League team for the Utah Jazz. Dorn’s title is Player Development Associate/Assistant Coach.

After playing 3 seasons at NC State, Dorn went on to play professionally overseas in Poland and Czech Republic, before joining the Wolfpack coaching staff last season as a Graduate Manager.

Dorn will be working under newly appointed head coach Steve Wojciechowski (former Duke PG), who was the head coach at Marquette the past 7 seasons.

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NC State Guard MJ Rice Will Be Returning Soon After Stepping Away for a Period of Time



NC State Guard MJ Rice (6’5″/215) announced yesterday that due to personal reasons, he had to step away from the basketball program, but was excited to be back with his teammates soon. He was clear that his commitment to NC State hasn’t wavered.


Life is much bigger than sports. These young men are human beings first and foremost, and as we all know, this life is never simple and easy.

Rice transferred to NC State this offseason from Kansas with three years of eligibility remaining. The former High School McDonald’s All-American didn’t get a lot of playing time in his Freshman season at Kansas, averaging 7.6 minutes per game in only 23 games played.

Coming out of Prolific Prep in California, Rice averaged 20.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a Senior. Rivals ranked him as a 5-star prospect, ON3 ranked him 24th nationally, and ESPN ranked him as the #1 player in the state of North Carolina.

Whatever Rice is working through, we value him as a person more than we do a player.

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