NC State Basketball
Kevin Keatts Press Conference After Louisville Win: TRANSCRIPT
Kevin Keatts met with the media for his postgame press conference after NC State beat Louisville 76-64 tonight. You can watch it here, or check out the transcript below.
Proud of my guys, and here’s why. This is always the toughest game to play, that game right before Christmas and I wanted to keep them focused and it didn’t matter who we were going to play.
It’s tough because we played an ACC team, even though it’s a team that hasn’t had a lot of early success. I’m gonna give Kenny [Payne] a lot of credit. His team is still playing hard even though they don’t have a great record right now, and believe it or not, they’ll win a few games in the ACC if they just continue to play hard and compete.
I thought the difference in the game is in the 2nd half we came out with a lot more energy. Proud of the way we passed the ball. Look at it, we had 17 assists on 26 made field goals. You know we’re really good, I think we’re undefeated this year when we have 11 or more assists in the game. The great thing about it, we had five guys in double figures which I thought was really really good.
I’m happy our guys get a chance to go home for a couple days and be able to hang out with family and that’s important to me.
I didn’t think we played hard enough in the first half and that’s just not who we are, not this particular team, so I had a few choice words and you know we we talked about it, and I thought our energy level went up to another level in the second half and thought guys really got after it.
We shared the ball. We didn’t make some shots we would normally make. I didn’t think Terquavion Smith was Terquavion Smith today, but that being said, we have to find ways to win when our two leading scorers don’t play great.
One of our bench guys, DJ Burns, has become a starter, and so as we continue to go, we’ve got to continue to develop someone else off the bench. He played 33 minutes tonight. I’m trying to get him up to 40. If I can get that guy to play 40 minutes you guys ought to give me a gift. He’s as gifted post guy scoring a ball that I’ve seen in a long time, and you know there is no traditional Centers anymore, and for a guy that you can throw the ball inside, and can get baskets, that means a lot, but he’s talented. If I can continue to help him get better defensively, I know that’s a stretch, but we’re going to continue to work on it. He’s really good. He’s tough to stop down there.
They’ll be off the 23rd, 24th and then Christmas and then we’ll get them back on the 26th and we’ll practice, and it’s important. I encourage everyone in this room just like I told the players, there’s some person or a bunch of people that made it possible for you guys to be where you’re at right now, and when I told our guys when you go home, the easy thing is to hang out with your friends, or to hang out with a girlfriend, but go see someone, put a smile on someone’s face. You don’t know what other people are going through, and so I encourage you guys the with the same thing. If you get time over Christmas, make someone else smile. We forgot the true meaning of Christmas, and I know it’s about great gifts. I know my wife’s gonna get great gifts, but at the end of the day, it’s about family, and so make it about family
Casey’s [Morsell] worked really hard to become a really good three-point shooter, and when he runs the floor and gets out, and we can advance the basketball, he’s usually very efficient from there, but you’re talking about, I’ve got about four or five guys that I call workout Warriors. He’s one of those guys. He stays in the gym. He stays working on his game. He’ll grab a manager when we can’t work him out, but I’m proud of him, because of the hard work that he’s put in to get to this point. I just think he’s getting comfortable, and you know, I know that sounds weird, because he’s been here for a couple years, but he played in a very good system that was completely different than the way we play, so I think he’s starting to realize how to play fast and to be able to score that way.
We will see if he’s [Isaiah Miranda] ready for the Clemson game. I would say maybe Clemson, maybe Duke, and the toughest thing for him is right now, is his head is spinning, we are throwing so much at him. This kid was in high school last week, and so trying to figure out ball screen coverages, knowing plays, and getting in shape. Believe it or not, you guys will laugh when I tell you this, DJ Burns is in better shape than Isaiah right now. Now that won’t last.
I love all of my guys from last year, we just were so undermanned, we just didn’t have it, but this group, because of Bahamas, because they hate to get off the court, we’re building a great culture inside of this group by itself and they are holding each other accountable, and you know they’re friends off the court, and certainly I think that’s paying off.
I think that’s the key word grow. You know we would have lost a week ago, we would have lost a Vanderbilt game, because we couldn’t finish the game. We grew, I thought we grew in that game, and then obviously we needed to have baskets. I thought we did a good job tonight, but that’s because we trust one another, and they’re starting to trust each other, and it’s really fun to watch when you got a bunch of guys that like each other and they feel like playing a game.
NC State Basketball
UNC Transfer Dontrez Styles Expected to Visit NC State Soon
UNC Guard/Forward Transfer Dontrez Styles (6’6″/210) is expected to be visiting NC State soon. According to a source, he was expected to take an unofficial visit tomorrow, but it has been rescheduled to Monday.
Styles entered the Transfer Portal on March 17th.
Over the past two seasons, Styles has seen limited action for the Tar Heels, averaging 5.9 minutes in 45 total games (15 this season).
Styles is no stranger to NC State. He played high school for Kinston (Kinston, NC), and was offered by Kevin Keatts. Styles was a consensus 4-Star prospect coming out of High School. 247Sports ranked him as the #62 overall player nationally in the 2021 recruiting class, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina.
ON3 ranks Styles as the #21 player currently in the Transfer Portal.
NC State Basketball
All-AAC Temple Transfer Damian Dunn Visiting NC State this Weekend
According to a source, Temple All-AAC Transfer Shooting Guard Damian Dunn (6’5″/195) was expected to be at NC State today on an unofficial visit.
Dunn entered the Transfer Portal on March 20th.
— Damian Dunn 🇦🇸 (@Dam1anKD) March 20, 2023
Dunn averaged 15.3 points per game this season, earning 3rd Team All-AAC honors. He shot 41.1% from the field this season, and 34.8% from three-point land.
In 2021-22, he led the Owls in scoring (14.9), and earned 2nd Team All-AAC honors.
Dunn originally is from Kinston, North Carolina, but played his Senior season of High School for Meadowcreek in Georgia, finishing his high school career as a 3-star prospect.
With the almost guaranteed loss of Terquavion Smith, NC State will be in need for a dynamic scorer, and Dunn has proven that he can do just that at the collegiate level.
Currently, Dunn is the 16th ranked player in the Transfer Portal according to ON3.
Dunn is a Redshirt Sophomore this season, with 2 years of eligibility remaining.
NC State Basketball
NC State’s Jack Clark Enters Transfer Portal
NC State Forward Jack Clark has entered the Transfer Portal.
NC State G Jack Clark has entered the transfer portal. Grad transfer. https://t.co/NQ6vpv4XPL
— Verbal Commits (@VerbalCommits) March 24, 2023
I heard from a source that it was close to 50/50 whether Clark would return to NC State next year for his final year of eligibility.
Clark started in 17 of the 23 games that he played in for the Wolfpack this season, averaging 9.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Clark led the Wolfpack on rebounding in 22-23.
When it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t be shocked to see NC State pull in 6 players from the Transfer Portal when all the dust settles.
Brace yourself for the ride.
NC State Basketball
A few Point Guards we think NC State will target in the transfer portal
As stated yesterday, NC State lost Ebe Dowuona and might lose a couple more guys to the portal eventually. They also are very likely to keep their core guys aside from Terquavion Smith who is almost surely headed to the NBA.
The Pack has a few glaring needs for next season. They need a starting PG, they need a starting SG and they need a 4/5 guy that can be the bruiser option at the 4 against bigger, stronger teams, and also a guy who can slot in as a backup behind Burns if Mahorcic’s knee doesn’t get back to full strength. Those are the direct needs at this moment, however, based on what guys on the current roster do, there might end up being other needs. That said, we’d going to focus on the needs of today.
There is always the case that transfers can via the portal with no prior connection to the team. That means they aren’t local kids and they don’t have a prior relationship with the coaching staff. While that is possible, it’s not usually how this plays out. What usually happens is a kid wants to come closer to home, or they have some prior relationship with the staff (sometimes both).
So right now we’re going to limit our focus to a few guys that are in the portal and either local or have a prior relationship with the staff. We’re also going to limit the discussion in this piece to just Point Guards.
What is a ‘Keatts’ Point Guard?
NC State runs their offense off of an initial high pick and roll, like many college teams today. That means they need a playmaking PG. Now, a playmaking PG doesn’t mean a guy who just puts up a ton of points (although that is what Joiner was for the Pack last season), but it could also mean a guy who can score but also get his team involved.
Remember, the high pick and roll is not designed to get a PG open shots. Sure, that is one option, but if you have a good PG coming off that high screen, they have 3 real options. Shoot it, pass to the roll guy/pop guy, or draw help and kick out to the corners. If you have a guy who can do all of these things well, then the high pick and roll is nearly unguardable. However, if you have a guy who only does one of those things, the high pick-and-roll looks pretty stagnant and one-dimensional.
Right now, Keatts is constantly criticized for his offensive system, and based on his personnel and how the offense ran last season, I get it. But with a pass-first PG (who can also score), this offense could be really efficient. I think for the sake of the team and the sake of his job, Keatts would be smart to prioritize a PG who is a little more pass-oriented and creates a little more havoc off that screen (meaning he keeps his dribble alive on the drive and probes, not to score necessarily, but to bait the defense to get out of position.)
So, what would you say Keatts’ ideal PG looks like?
Well, we don’t really know. His first two recruited were Lavar Batts and Braxton Beverly, both taken in his first year and both kind of out of desperation. Then he landed Jalen Lecque, who was a 6’4 elite athlete PG, who opted to skip college and go to the NBA. Then he brought on Cam Hayes and Shakeel Moore. Moore was a late addition, who I believe was taken to entice teammate Josh Hall to come to NC State (Hall also skipped college to go to the NBA after committing to State). Hayes, however, was a Keatts guy and Hayes was a 6’2, 185lb combo guard who was known as a shooter and good defender (he ended up being not much of either at NC State unfortunately). Then he brought on Breon Pass, a 6-foot guard who has given State some good minutes the past couple of years, but doesn’t look quite ready to take over as a starter. Pass was known as a good scorer at a smaller NC school, and a very good defender. So far his defense has panned out but not as much scoring as we expected. Next there was LJ Thomas last year. He’s a bigger 6’2 190lb PG. Not quite as quick but more physical. Not as much of a playmaker, but more of a scorer. Then Keatts brought in Joiner this year, a 6’1 scoring threat who never averaged more than 2.3 assists per game before coming to Raleigh.
So, to us, this is Keatts biggest flaw during his NC State tenure. He has an offense built around having an elite PG, and he really hasn’t decided what an elite PG in his system looks like. The best he’s brought in was Joiner, but the offense ended up being a lot of isolation and one on one play. To really reach the next level, Keatts needs to find a PG who is a playmaker and passer, one who can defend and then pair him with an elite scoring guard.
Who is out there right now that we should keep an eye on?
Northern Arizona | 5’11, 175lbs | 18ppg, 2.5 assists, 40% from 3pt range | From Walkerton, NC
Cone started his career off at Virginia Tech. He was a 3 star kid who was super quick, and more of a scorer than a playmaker. He had offers from VT, Tennessee and Baylor, but that was really it. NC State was involved a little bit here but never given an offer.
He had decent stats at VT, but really came into his own when he transferred to Northern Arizona. Obviously, this is weaker conference, but he had 20pts, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists against Michigan State, 17 points and 6 boards against Arizona State. He did get shut down against Texas, scoring just 6 points and turning the ball over 5 times, but this is a guy who had games of 45pts, 38 pts, and 29pts. He’s super quick and really a good shooter. He’s a less physical version of Jarkell Joiner if you ask me. So maybe Keatts sees this as a decent fit, but in my opinion, you need to target a guy who is more interested in getting his teammates involved (but I guess that depends on your ability to lock down an elite scoring 2 guard). I’m also concerned about his 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. You want your lead guard to be better than that.
Kansas | 6’1, 190lbs | 2 ppg, 1.3 assists, 30% from 3pt range | From Durham, NC
Pettiford is a stout, physical guard who can defend, but really hasn’t shown much on the offensive end. That said, he’s had a case of the injury bug during his two years at Kansas. He started with an ankle injury and then had an abdominal injury, both really slowed him down. When he committed to Kansas (after decommitting from Louisville) Bill Self really thought Pettiford was going to be a major contibutor to his team saying “We were very fortunate when Bobby opened up his recruitment last month. He became a priority immediately. We feel Bobby has a tremendous future, great upside and will make an immediate impact for us. His work ethic and drive are something I think every program hopes every player has.”
Pettiford is interesting to me. He’s a very physical guard, a good defender, and a good finisher around the rim, but he’s not super athletic, nor is he a great long-range shooter. He also isn’t someone who is explosive in transition. Those seem to be all things Keatts is looking for in a PG, so you’d think Pettiford isn’t going to be a major target for State, but you never know. He has a lot of talent, but I’m not sure he fits great with the pieces NC State currently has in place. However, in HS he was a really good shooter and showed a real scoring ability, so who knows.
ECU | 6’2, 180lbs | 15.8 ppg, 5.6 assists, 33% from 3pt range | From South Bend, IN
Small isn’t a North Carolina prep kid, but his connection to the state is that he’s transferring from ECU. This is a kid who was a 3-star recruit and only had mid-major offers, but has erupted for the Pirates this season. He’s a big, strong PG who shot nearly 40% from the floor and 33.3% from long range. This year Jarkel Joiner shot 42.8% from the field and 35.4% from long range. So he’s not quite the shooter that Joiner was, but he’s not that far off. He also is more of a playmaker than Joiner. He averaged 5.6 assists per game and 3.4 turnovers per game. He was ranked 18th nationally in assist rate when he went down with a knee injury in mid-January. This is a guy that I think Keatts should try to bring in, and it looks like he’s already reached out.
ECU transfer Javon Small has heard from the following schools since entering the transfer portal, he tells @On3sports:
NC State https://t.co/oY8D4CDfHM
— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) March 16, 2023
Check out his highlights…
WKU | 6’1, 195lbs | 16.5 ppg, 5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 34% from 3pt range | From Shelbyville, KY
McKnight is being listed here because NC State has reached out to him. I’m not aware of any connection with the staff, but he definitely fits the Keatts mold. He’s a little bit of a bigger, stronger guard, and honestly is like an undersized James Harden with the way he creates space and attacks the basket (He’s also a lefty). McKnight is going to be a really unique player no matter where he ends up. He’s got a knack for creating space, great footwork, a nice jumper and he really loves drawing contact on his drives to the hoop. I can definitely see why NC State reached out, and if he really does pattern his game after James Harden, then the NC State high screen and roll offense is the perfect system for him. Don’t look at his frame and think he’s slow, either. The kid has speed and while he’s not going to play above the rim, he’ll be a scoring threat no matter where he lands.
Western Kentucky transfer Dayvion McKnight has heard from the following schools since entering the portal, source tells @On3sports:
Mississippi State https://t.co/rPam5GZvdb
— Joe Tipton (@TiptonEdits) March 22, 2023
Here are his highlights…
As more names get added to the portal with NC State connections, we’ll add them here and reshare this article.
We had a rough time in the first half, our shots weren’t falling so we couldn’t get into our press, and they were shooting really, really well. Nice halftime adjustments, we tightened up on their outside shooters – they didn’t even take many 3PT, much less hit them in the second half – and ran some plays to get open looks for Morsell and Clark. Mostly, as KK said in the presser, we had more energy in the second half. Huge relief to get that first ACC win. I still think our only really bad loss was Pitt. Now we… Read more »
Beating Clemson can help us a lot. We are in or near a tiebreaker with them most years it seems.