Oh baby. Isn’t this fun?
After going 11-21 (last time we had 11 or less wins was 1993 season), the transfer portal opened up and swallowed this team. Rumors are becoming reality and the program is at a very, VERY course defining tipping point. So let’s talk about it.
Transfer fire after we saw the smoke
One Side: Folks knew Hayes and Gibson were leaving. In fact, they practically BEGGED them to go.
Other Side: We didn’t think Bates would join them.
It’s always funny looking at a fanbase. They yell and scream and callout players, but then when they leave, that same fanbase wonders why. Cam Hayes is a good player. Would bet a lot of money, wherever he ends up, he’ll be productive. Just wasn’t the situation for him and streaky shooting came back to bite him. Gibson is also a good player, just not Power 5 level. We fully understand why they’re leaving. More so playing time and fit, rather than coaching.
But Bates is what’s nerve racking, to some extent.
Players leaving for NBA or another school is one thing. Having a Keatts guy leave after everything that’s happened, is not a good look. After last summer’s questioning and eventual return, added to his constant presence on the bench this year, felt like he’d be back. Maybe the medical side got too nervous. Maybe some personal things just never got resolved. But this is a huge hit against the coaching staff.
If we could talk directly to Bates – and had any kind of influence – we’d say that if he doesn’t return to State, just go pro. He’s working against his own body at this point. Bates was beyond productive in his time at State. Literally voted the most feared defender in the ACC by his peers. He has the tape to show his abilities, it’s just a matter of how the shoulders hold up. Why not get paid while showing you can stay healthy? Make that money in Europe or potentially even G-League.
The awkward predicament: College is all about the transfer market, we just added one more than we all thought.
Losing players, but to the NBA?
One Side: Holy crap, State could be getting two guys into the top-50 of the draft.
Other Side: Why does Keatts keep losing dudes?
Could this get any more awkward? Think about it…We as a fanbase, preseason, are told we are going to be pushing two guys into the NBA.
We’d be ecstatic.
But now that we’re losing other guys, now we’re angry? Yes, Seabron came back to earth a bit as the season went along. Yes, Smith needs to add size and consistency to his game. We would argue, Seabron could improve himself in G-League and Smith could use another year of college ball and immediately move to a top-15 pick next year.
You have to give credit to Keatts on these pickups. He found guys under everybody’s radar and now they have legit NBA draft potential.
The awkward predicament: We could be sending two guys to the NBA but we really need them back.
Fine, pay the buyout…but who the hell comes in?
One Side: Keatts isn’t the guy, pay the money and move on.
Other Side: Who could we realistically bring in that we’d have money for and confidence in?
This is the most talked about situation, and it’s obvious why. On one hand you have a coach that had a historically bad season, but also dealt with injuries, NCAA and this perceived “safe space” for future growth.
So what happens if we let him go? Does the next coach feel any sort of confidence in his ability to do his thing? Are we finding an up-and-comer (i.e. rolling the dice yet again) or finding a seasoned coach (i.e. Mark Turgeon and hoping he still has some magic)?
We know the response, “Well it can’t get much worse.” But actually? It could. Keatts is not Les Robinson. Six years, five with losing record. And for those talking about “most losses ever”, this year they played more than that entire era. This is hardly rock bottom, as close as it may seem.
Plus, look at programs like Iowa State and Texas Tech. Rebuilt by the portal and competitive. Could you see a core of Smith, Pass, Phillips, Gantt, Morsell, Ross and Dowuona plus three stud transfers work? We could.
The awkward predicament: Who would be better and what can Keatts do in the transfer portal?
In the end…
This isn’t fun. Duke and UNC are about to square off in the Final Four and we have four guys in the transfer portal already. Confidence is low, fan base interest even lower. Do you go another year and then rebuild if it doesn’t work or just pull the bandaid off now? Can this team be competitive next year or is this just a lost cause?
We have NBA talent, a shuffling of assistances and no idea what the future holds. NC State Men’s Basketball is awkward as AF.