Connect with us

NC State Basketball

Terquvaion Smith just took his game to a new level (and you probably didn’t notice)



Will you look at that!? NC State got themselves a win!

After almost a month of losses, the Wolfpack put together an amazing first half to propel them to a 76-61 win. Usually here at PI, we have our 4 authors each send in a bulleted list of quick thoughts, and from that, we decide what to include in our “Our Take” column. However, everyone’s take revolved around the elite play, and new wrinkles, shown by Terquavion Smith. So today’s ‘Our Take’ is going to simply be a breakdown of what Smith did so well.

Lemme get into it.

When you look at the line, you’ll see that the freshman Smith had 26 points and 8 rebounds. That’s an amazing line by itself, and one we’ve seen before, but watch a little closer and you’d have seen that this was a version of Smith we hadn’t yet seen.

Smith only played 24 minutes in this game. With State up big and the freshman having 4 fouls, he sat for a majority of the 2nd half. Now go back and look at those numbers. 26 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal, 9-13 from the floor, 6-8 from 3 point range. All of that in a little more than a half of play. 

And that’s not all. Go back and rewatch the first half. Smith was playing differently. He was adding a wrinkle to his game we haven’t really seen much of. That’s what I want to focus on in this piece. The emergence of Terquavion Smith as a distributor.

Instead of shot hunting early on, he was looking to make plays with his passes. He hit Dowuona on the pick and roll for the game’s first basket. This is something we haven’t seen much from NC State, and you know what, I get it. Neither, Dowuona nor Gibson have the most reliable hands, and neither is a great finisher in traffic, but Smith decided that what they’ve been doing all season hasn’t been working, so why not start pressuring the bigs to make plays. Look…

[Image 1] You see the high screen is set. Smith is a threat to go left, and he’s quick, so his defender is reluctant to hedge too far up over the screen. Because of this, Dowuona’s guy has to slide over to stop the drive if he goes over top of the screen.

[Image 2] Smith opts to go over top of the screen. His defender is caught up for a second on Dowuona’s pick. Smith starts turning the corner, now in front of his man. Dowuona’s guy has to step up and block the drive. Dowuona begins to roll.

[Image 3] Hellem’s man now has to make a decision. Does he cut off Ebe completely and allow Hellems to sit wide open for 3? Or does he hedge to the middle, hope to dissuade Smith from making the pass, and get back to Hellems as Ebe’s guy recovers?

Spoiler alert. He chose the latter. Hellem’s man hedges a bit, but it’s just a show. He’s just trying to bait Smith to not make the pass. However, Smith doesn’t fall for it and delivers a great pass to Ebe for the easy layup.

Let’s do another one…

[Image 1] Here is Smith on a straight-line drive. He beats his man off the bounce. Ebe’s man starts to realize he needs to help, so he turns focus to Smith.

[Image 2] Smith has his guy on his shoulder and without help will have an easy lefty layup. This forces Ebe’s man to come over and provide help.

[Image 3] Usually, Smith lofts up a high left layup off the glass. However, this time he takes off as if he’s going to attack, but drops the pass off to Dowuona who now is wide open underneath.

The pass is perfect, but Ebe rushes up a shot, which he misses. Eventually, the ball pops back out to Smith who hits the 3. But that’s not the point of showing you this. The point of showing you this is to help you understand NC State’s struggles and how Smith is trying something different.

Risk vs. Reward on trusting your bigs.

The question is this: Is passing it down to your bigs, who don’t have great hands or footwork and aren’t great finishers in traffic, getting you a higher probability shot? Or are you better off taking a contested jumper/floater?

Most of this season, with Bates hurt, NC State has decided that forcing it down to their bigs is too risky, and the higher probability shot is a contested jumper or floater. I don’t know how that equation ends up working out, but I do know that NC State was 10-16 coming into this game using that theory.

The thing that has made this tricky is that neither Seabron nor Hayes (the guys usually using the high screen) have great vision or are highly skilled passers. Seabron is more focused on getting to the rack, and Hayes usually has his interior passes tipped and stolen.

These are the reasons you complain about NC State’s offense. But as you can see, from Smith’s performance vs. Georgia Tech, the ‘high screen and roll’ is absolutely deadly if you have the right pieces in place. Up until this point, Smith was mostly shot hunting when he came off the pick. However, it seems as if he’s working on becoming more of an overall threat.

Smith has the ability to shoot it, drive it, and now he’s showing his ability to pass it in traffic. This is the type of player that this high screen action was built for. Now, whether or not Dowuona and Gibson can execute when they get these passes in traffic, is another question. But at this point, you have to trust them. And you have to trust them because the more you are able to show the defense that you’re willing to drop it off to them on the roll, the less likely their big is to show high and cut off the drive.

If you’re confused and don’t speak basketball, you football heads can think of it like this. Maybe you don’t have a great running back, but you can really throw it. Well, you have to establish some sort of run game or the defense is going to sit back and wait for the pass. NC State is that team with a good QB, but zero run game. All season long they’ve just been spreading it out and passing, but you’re seeing here that they are trying to establish a little run game, to open things up.

Get it?

Let’s do it one more time.

[Image 1] At this point, we’re 10 minutes into the game. Smith already has three 3s and 11 points. So obviously that is going to dictate how they play him off this high screen. They go to it again, on the left side. Smith brings his guys way to the left on the drive attempt, and even though he has a half step, he pulls it back, crosses over and uses this screen. This has his defender off-balance, and trailing.

[Image 2] Ebe’s guy sees this, and also realizes Smith is red hot. So he hedges all the way out. Smith draws his momentum out by veering off and not trying to turn the corner. Ebe starts his roll.

[Image 3] Smith now has Ebe’s guy dead-to-rights. He’s committed too much, and his momentum is going away from the basket. There is no way he can recover. Leaving Ebe wide open for the dunk.

See, this is what NC State has been missing all year. Smith showing that he’s capable and willing to distribute, opens the door up so much for NC State. Having a lethal 3-level scorer who can pass is every coach’s dream.

But just how good is Smith’s vision? Well, he’d shown some hints early in the season that he’s got high-level vision, but this is the pass that proves it. (okay, okay, I’m doing one more)

[Image 1] Smith receives a pass and dribbles to the top of the key, making eye contact with Seabron. As Smith was dribbling towards the top, Seabron was coming up from the block, his man is busy watching Smith, making sure he doesn’t need to hedge over and help.

[Image 2] In this frame, you can see Seabron starts to cut backdoor. However, notice the angle. At this moment, Seabron isn’t open at all. However, Smith sees Seabron’s man get caught for a second by the change of direction. His man was walking up, and his momentum was taking him high, likely anticipating Seabron would catch it out top.

[Image 3] Smith reads that he’s off-balance and won’t be able to recover. So he passes Seabron open, anticipating that he’ll have slightly beat his man by the time the pass arrives. Note the red X. That is where the ball was delivered. Now look where Seabron was when the pass was thrown.

This right here is why we think Smith is starting to unlock a new part of his game. Scoring is the most natural part of his game, but you’re seeing a kid who has the total package. Great handle, great shot, elite athlete, and high-level vision.

The next step for Smith will be to understand situations better. He’ll need to learn when to be a distributor and when to be a scorer.

This can be the hardest part of the game. Being able to flip the switch from scorer to distributor. Only the truly elite can do it, but Smith is just a freshman and he’s already starting to show that he’s capable and willing.

I really, really, really hope Smith uses this as a turning point. I hope moving forward that he comes into games realizing he’s not just a scorer for this team, but that this team needs him to command that high-screen action and get his teammates involved.

If he’s able to do this, NC State, who all season has been a one-dimensional team, suddenly becomes multi-dimensional.

—Want to watch the plays we discussed in real-time. View it below. Here are the timestamps—-

0:10 – Pick and Roll to Ebe (1)
0:19 – Drive and dump to Ebe
2:25 – Pick and Roll to Ebe (2)
3:45 – Backdoor to Seabron


A pasta eatin', Wolfpack lovin' loudmouth from Raleigh by way of New Jersey. Jimmy V and Chuck Amato fanboy. All opinions are my own and you're gonna hear'em.

Notify of
oldest most Upvoted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

This player has been something special to watch. Enjoy this while you can.

1 year ago
Reply to  Afterglow

I have been wondering just how loyal and committed Keatts is to his players. We all worry about good players transferring or going pro. But what about those players that are on scholarship but haven’t developed as rapidly or had the impact we anticipated when they were recruited? Does Keatts have a plan to weed out some players so he can upgrade the talent? Still trying to make sense of Keatts continuing to recruit for 2022 graduates based on how many scholarships are apparently available.

NC State Basketball




Well, it’s OFFICIAL. D.J Burns will be returning to NC State for his final year of collegiate eligibility!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by DJ Burns / BIG 30♨️ (@dj.b30)

This confirms everything I’d been hearing about the return of Burns. Burns was the key to the Wolfpack offense running effectively this past year. He averaged 12.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 2022-23, but he elevated his game in ACC play, averaging 16.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in conference games.

Burns is celebrating his return to run with the Wolfpack by dropping his own Big 30 merch. Go over and snag something.

Continue Reading

NC State Basketball

Isaiah Miranda is an Early Entry Candidate for the 2023 NBA Draft



The NBA released the names of the 242 players that have filed as early entry candidates for NBA Draft 2023 last night, and NC State’s Isaiah Miranda’s name was on the list.

Miranda (7’1″/225) joined the Wolfpack back in December, deciding to forgo the remainder of his prep season. Miranda didn’t see the court for NC State, resulting in a redshirt season.

ON3 ranked Miranda as the #16 overall player in the 2023 recruiting class.

It makes perfect sense for a player like Miranda, with his height and athleticism, to go through the draft process to be evaluated on what he needs to continue to work on. As an early entrant, Miranda has the ability to pull his name out of the draft and remain a collegiate athlete.

I don’t expect Miranda to keep his name in the hat when the time comes. From what I hear his game has tons of potential, but he still needs to fine tune his craft. Also, Miranda shared this on social media, implying he will be back in the Red and White next year.

Continue Reading

NC State Basketball

Missouri Transfer Mohamed Diarra Commits to NC State



NC State picked up their 5th transfer today. Mohamed Diarra (6’10″/215) committed to run with the Wolfpack today while in Raleigh on an Official Visit.

Diarra originally spent his first two seasons at Garden City Community College, averaging 17.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game in his second season. He landed at Missouri last year, after being rated as the #1 JUCO prospect in the 2022 class according to

In his only season at Missouri, Diarra averaged 11.7 minutes per game in 25 games played (6 starts), averaging 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds. Because of the extra year due to Covid, Diarra has 2 years of eligibility remaining.

With news breaking today that Dusan Mahorcic entered the Transfer Portal, the Wolfpack found his replacement. NC State’s frontcourt in 2023-24 currently will be made up of D.J. Burns, Ben Middlebrooks, Mohamed Diarra and Ernest Ross.

Check out these highlights of Diarra.

There is a lot to like in Diarra’s game. He is athletic, can hit a jump shot, put the ball on the floor, can play defense on the perimeter, block shots, and is an aggressive rebounder.

Continue Reading

NC State Basketball

Missouri Transfer Mohamed Diarra is On an Official Visit to NC State Today



Missouri Transfer Mohamed Diarra (6’10″/215) is on an Official Visit to NC State today. Diarra originally spent his first two seasons at Garden City Community College, averaging 17.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game in his second season. He landed at Missouri last year, after being rated as the #1 JUCO prospect in the 2022 class according to

In his only season at Missouri, Diarra averaged 11.7 minutes per game in 25 games played (6 starts), averaging 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds. Because of the extra year due to Covid, Diarra has 2 years of eligibility remaining.

Diarra entered the Transfer Portal on March 28th.

Continue Reading