PI EXCLUSIVE: An interview with 2023 7-foot Wolfpack Prospect Braden Pierce
Just yesterday we told you that NC State was in the mix for 2023 7-foot, stretch center, Braden Pierce.
Pierce will be taking an official visit to Raleigh on September 17th and would be a huge pickup for Keatts and company.
The big man, who is playing a prep year at IMG Academy has flown under the radar, and despite being an agile, strong, and skilled 7-footer, entered the season unranked. But watch his video and it’s pretty apparent that this kid is about to shoot up the ranks in a big way.
We spoke to Braden earlier today to get his take on the recruitment process and why it’s taken so long for Power 5 schools to take notice.
PI: Can you explain your recruiting journey to us? We heard Levi was already in contact with you while at Ole Miss. How long has he been recruiting you and when did NC State get involved?
BP: Coach Levi has been recruiting me since my junior year of high school, NC State got involved as soon as he got there.
PI: You’re a 7-footer with great coordination, skill, and physicality, plus you can shoot. In your opinion, why have you gone a little under the radar? I find it crazy that you were unranked coming into this year.
BP: I feel like I have gone under the radar a little bit because I really didn’t start playing basketball full time until the end of my sophomore year, I was mainly focused on playing baseball, which is the main reason I’m taking a post-grad year
PI: Explain your game to Wolfpack fans. What type of player are you?
BP: I would describe my game as a stretch 5 who can really do whatever a coach needs from me, I can shoot the 3, block shots, post up, and even beat someone off the dribble.
PI: Which NBA player or college player do you pattern your game after? Or what do you want your final form to look like as a player?
BP: I like to model my game around (Nikola) Jokic with a little more athleticism, really try to be a great passer, and have good touch around the rim.
PI: Who else is recruiting you at this time and which schools are coming at you the hardest?
BP: I think NC State is recruiting me the hardest right now, but in the past few weeks I’ve been hearing from Utah, UGA, Ole Miss, Iowa, Nebraska, Maryland, Drake, SMU, UMass, Florida, and Rice.
PI: . What are you looking for in a school?
BP: Just looking for a school where I will be able to develop the best over my 4 years and have the best chance of playing at the next level while also being able to help the team win.
PI: What is your timeline for visits and a commitment somewhere?
BP: I don’t really have a definite date on commitment/visits right now, just trying to get better at IMG and not rush the process.
Braden took an unofficial visit to NC State in late June.
Had a great visit to NC State today! Thank you to @Levi_Watkins21 and @CoachKeattsNCSU for having me! pic.twitter.com/yxQbogvpoI
— Braden Pierce (@bradenpierce24) June 27, 2022
Check out his highlights below…
North Carolina High School Athletes Will Now be Able to Profit off NIL
NIL has shaken up the college sports world, and now it will be shaking up the high school sports world in North Carolina (NCHSAA), becoming one of 27 states to approve the ability for high school athletes to profit off their Name, Image and Likeness.
This will officially take place beginning July 1.
In order for a student athlete to begin this process, they will have to take a course on NIL, and their parents, coaches and athletic director will as well. Schools and coaches will not be able to represent the student in NIL Deals, and they will also not be allowed to use NIL as a way to draw athletes to their school.
There are restrictions on what student athletes can profit off of though.
The NCHSAA will prohibit student-athletes from entering into NIL deals with products around adult entertainment, alcohol, cannabis, controlled substances, firearms and ammunition, gambling, prescription drugs, as well as tobacco, vaping, and other Nicotine-related products. Athletes cannot affiliate themselves with a specific school, conference, school district, the NCHSAA, or the NFHS through a NIL deal.
What are your thoughts?
NC State Men’s Offers 4-Star Jahki Howard
Last Thursday, the Wolfpack offered 2024 Small Forward Jahki Howard (6’7″/180) out of Overtime Elite (Atlanta, GA).
Blessed to receive a offer from NC state 🙏🏽❤️ pic.twitter.com/4lgSd9b9s8
— Jahki Howard (@showtime_ki) April 28, 2023
ESPN ranks Howard as the #53 overall player nationally in the 2024 recruiting class, and the #3 player in the state of Georgia.
Howard is familiar with NC State, because NC State 2023 signee Trey Parker played with him down at Overtime Elite. In 2022-23, Howard averaged 10.1 points per game, shooting 58.6% from the field.
Check out these pictures of Howard on an unofficial visit to NC State with Parker.
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Check out these recent highlight reels of Howard.
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Jahki Howard has taken his game to another level. Off to a 5-0 start with NH Lightning on the Circuit.
Averaging 17.6PPG and 7.2RPG, while shooting 69% FG and 63% from 3P (7-11). Insane numbers.
Highlights below📺👇 pic.twitter.com/90DcLkLKN7
— GREENLIGHT MEDIA (@atlgreenlight) April 29, 2023
Parker and Howard showed out in this Dunk Contest a couple of months back.
Howard will be taking an Official Visit to Georgetown on May 8-9.
4-Star SF Jahki Howard Takes an Unofficial Visit to NC State
4-Star 2024 Small Forward Jahki Howard (6’7″/180) took an Unofficial Visit to NC State yesterday alongside 4-Star Shooting Guard Paul McNeil, who verbally committed to run with the Wolfpack yesterday.
🐺🐺nation ? Unofficial visit❤️🤍 #notcommitted pic.twitter.com/NxNncnptkm
— Jahki Howard (@showtime_ki) February 20, 2023
Howard is ranked as the #51 overall player nationally in the 2024 class by Rivals, and the #4 player in the state of Georgia according to ESPN. Howard plays for Overtime Elite in Atlanta, where 2023 NC State signee Trey Parker plays.
He also holds offers from Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Providence, Auburn, Rutgers, Illinois, Texas A&M, Mississippi St, Wake Forest, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, Arizona St, Kansas, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, and others.
As far as I can tell, Howard doesn’t hold an offer from NC State at this point.
Jahki Howard earns Player of the Week honors after a big performance vs. Hillcrest dropping 25 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST 🚀 @showtime_ki pic.twitter.com/yPD5psrm2m
— Overtime Elite (@OvertimeElite) November 29, 2022
4-Star 2024 Shooting Guard Paul McNeil Commits to NC State!
What a day! 4-Star 2024 Shooting Guard Paul McNeil (6’6″/185) wrapped up his Official Visit to NC State today by committing to run with the Wolfpack, after watching them defeat their rival UNC in PNC Arena.
@PackMensBball #Committed🐺🐺 pic.twitter.com/AiSg5h2wCg
— P2⚡️ (@PaulMcneilJr) February 19, 2023
McNeil is the #17 overall player nationally in the 2024 recruiting class according to ESPN, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina.
In 2022-23, McNeil is averaging 23.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game for Richmond High School. Last year, he became the first ever Sophomore to win the Gatorade Player of the Year Award in the state of North Carolina.
McNeil also held offers from Clemson, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Miami, Georgetown, St. John’s, LSU, Virginia Tech, Missouri, and others.
So he’s only been playing basketball seriously for two years?