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Key takeaways from Keatts, Smith and Joiner at ACC Tipoff

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As we reported, yesterday was the ACC Tipoff event in Charlotte. This is basically the media day for the ACC where teams send two players (usually team captains) along with their head coach to answer questions and talk about the upcoming season.

This year NC State opted to bring sophomore Terquavion Smith and senior Jarkell Joiner along with Keavin Keatts. Here is the transcript from their interviews and here is what we learned.

Terquavion Smith and Jarkell Joiner are your leaders this year
Smith is just a sophomore, but Keatts made a point to say this.

“Going through this process and going through the NBA combine and having the opportunity to go meet at some great programs in the NBA, man, he’s a different guy, and he’s matured. A lot of that is because he became a sophomore, but a lot of it is what he went through as a freshman. ”

Smith will be asked to lead this team in scoring and his play will likely be the difference between NC State being a competitor this season or them having another down year. All signs point to Smith having a big season, but again, this is only his second year in the ACC.

As for Joiner, he was a huge addition for Keatts. This team needed some experience and leadership and they got that with the 5th year senior, Joiner. All offseason everyone we’ve talked to raved about Joiner’s ability to lead both vocally and by example. Keatts obviously sees him as his veteran leader and likely team captain.

Keatts says what every NC State fan wanted him to say
NC State fans are sick of excuses and they want a guy who is going to man up and take responsibility when things don’t go as planned. Is Keatts that guy?

Well, all of last year and all offseason you’ve heard Keatts talk about injuries and the NCAA investigation that was looming over the program since he arrived. Pack fans get it and many echoed those points, but Keatts needed to make a statement and take responsibility to have his naysayers get behind him for one more season. He did that in this presser, saying this…

“I never blame anything on the players. Those guys last year, they played their hearts out for me and our program. If you want to look at someone to blame about last year, you completely look at me. I’m the coach. I’m the guy who should take all of the heat, and I am”

Keatts is going to rely on his new group of veterans
NC State fans want to see more of Breon Pass, they want to see what Greg Gantt brings the table, they want to see a fully healthy Ernest Ross getting in the mix. They will certainly see all of those things, but Keatts is coaching for his job so you’re not going to see a rebuilding year. They are going to go for it and they are going to rely on the guys with experience. Here is the quote on that…

“What we did this year is we went out and we got experience. I’ve said for so long that it’s hard to win in college basketball in general when you are young, and, man, I caught myself being young last year. So I went out and I got some older guys that have played and been through some adversity. I know Jarkel is with us. He is a guy who’s proven — he started off Division I, transferred back home to the SEC, has played against some great teams, and certainly he’s going to be great for T, he’s going to be great for the rest of our players, and all of the transfers, including a guy like Casey Morsell who’s been in the program last year all our guys have benefitted from. When you look at college basketball last year, the teams who were really good were the teams that were — I’m not going to say the word “old,” but those guys who were experienced, and that’s what happened.”

Keatts isn’t abandoning the fast pace or his press
Uh oh. Now I’m sure NC State fans are going to be split on this one. Keatts want to press and he wants to play fast, but to do that you have to have to things. One is having depth. NC State has that. The other is having the right pieces, and I think at this point that is up for debate. Here is what Keatts had to say about that…

“I like the direction that our program is going in. I feel good about it. We want to get back to playing the way we played my first three years. We won 20 games. We were .500 or better in the ACC. I like our team. We’ve got depth. We can get back to pressing. We can get back to running. That was the biggest changes that we made.”

Now, with Joiner, Smith, Morsell and Clark in the game, you certainly have the size, length and athleticism to press. They can go full bore and when they need a breather you have guys like Gantt and Ross who can come in at the 4, move Clark to the 3 and put Morsell at the 2. There is a lot of flexibility here. So depth won’t be an issue unless you suffere injuries.

That said, does he have the right guys for this? Well, one big piece that is missing is a legit shot blocker at the backside of that press. If you don’t stop them or slow them down with the press, you get run-outs which can lead to 2 on 1 breaks with one guy guarding the basket. When that guy was Manny Bates, you were fine. But with Mahorcic and Burns back there, you don’t really have a chance to stop them. Dowuona might be seeing most of his run when State is in press mode, but unless he’s made a big jump in the shot blocking category, we’ll see a lot of what we saw last year on the back side of that press (and it wasn’t great.)

So we’ll see. I think some State fans were hoping to see Keatts be a little more conservative on defense. Less gambling out top, more packing it in and using the strength of your bigs as an advantage instead of exposing them to situation where they’ll need to challange rim runs. However, Keatts did say a few weeks ago that he’ll be playing a lot more zone. So which is it. You don’t see many fast paced zone teams out there, but we have to wait and see what Keatts has planned on this front.

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Papajohn
Papajohn
1 year ago

Depth! And experience.
With the exception of LJ Thomas, everyone has played college ball. With the additional exception of Ross and Smith, we have 9 guys with 2 years experience at least. The starting lineup will be Smith, with 3 grads and a senior.

Dof87
Dof87
1 year ago

While we may not have the big shot blocker, I think our wider bodied and stronger bigs will hold space around the basket better and can disrupt by keeping a body on their man. I’ll trade some shot blocks for rebounds.

NC State Basketball

NC State Men’s Basketball 2024-25 Scholarship Breakdown

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With the announcement of the addition of Forward Ismael Diouf yesterday, and news breaking that MJ Rice and Ernest Ross are no longer with the team this morning, here’s a look at the Scholarship Breakdown for the Men’s Basketball Team for the 2024-25 season.

Senior (1 Year of Eligibility)

Forward/Center Brandon Huntley-Hatfield
Forward/Center Ben Middlebrooks
Forward Guard Dontrez Styles
Guard/Forward Jayden Taylor
Guard Michael O’Connell
Guard Marcus Hill
Guard Breon Pass

Junior (2 Years of Eligibility)

Forward/Center Ismael Diouf
Guard Mike James

Sophomore ( 3 Years of Eligibility)

Guard/Forward Dennis Parker Jr.

Freshman (4 Years of Eligibility)

Guard/Forward Paul McNeil Jr.
Guard Trey Parker

NC State now has 1 scholarship available for the 2024-25 season. 

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Ernest Ross is No Longer on NC State’s Roster

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According to a source, Senior Forward Ernest Ross is no longer on NC State’s roster.

On April 17th, Ross entered the Transfer Portal. On May 10th, Ross verbally committed to UTSA. Then on May 15th, Ross announced that he would in fact be returning to NC State for his final year of eligibility.

Ross played in 14 games this past season, averaging 3.4 minutes per contest. After playing in 34 games last season, averaging 11.4 minutes per contest, Ross saw his participation dip to a career low this season, but that didn’t for a second break his infectious personality.

Ross was a consensus 4-star player in NC State’s 2021 recruiting class, with 247Sports ranking him as the #60 overall player nationally. ESPN ranked him as the #5 overall player in the state of Florida.

According to a source, Ross is leaving the program for personal reasons, that are non-basketball related.

Ross has 1 year of eligibility remaining.

 

 

 

 

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MJ Rice is No Longer on NC State’s Roster

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According to a source, Sophomore Guard MJ Rice is no longer on NC State’s roster.

Rice transferred to NC State last offseason from Kansas, and only played in 9 games for the Wolfpack this past season, averaging 4.1 points in 8.8 minutes per game.

On January 24th, it NC State announced that Rice would be sitting out the remainder of the season, and that they would be submitting a waiver for the season to count as a Redshirt year.

Prior to the beginning of the  season, Rice stepped away from the program for personal reasons, and missed the first 7 games, before joining the Wolfpack against Maryland Eastern-Shore.

The Kansas transfer played in 23 games for the Jayhawks as a Freshman, averaging 2.2 points in 7.6 minutes per game. ON3 ranked Rice as the #24 overall player nationally in the 2022 recruiting class. They also ranked him as the #2 overall player in the Transfer Portal.

It was always ‘iffy’ whether or not Rice would be on next years roster, but he didn’t enter the Transfer Portal, and remained with the team on their magical run, and even after.

According to a source, Rice is leaving the program for personal reasons, that are non-basketball related.

Rice has 3 years of eligibility remaining.

 

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NC State Commit Ismael Diouf: VIDEO VAULT

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NC State just landed a MASSIVE commitment from Canadian Forward Ismael Diouf (6’9″/215). Here’s a VIDEO VAULT of the new NC State big man.

 

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