NC State Basketball
Did Greg Gantt just save NC State’s season?
Almost 2 years ago Greg Gantt announced that he would be transferring to NC State.
Gantt was a former 4-star forward who played his first 2 seasons at Providence. There he averaged 4 points, 3 boards and 1.7 assists in his sophomore campaign, shooting just 22% from long range.
Those stats didn’t really generate much excitement about his arrival, but that didn’t change the fact that Gantt was a 6’8 former 4-star kid with a college-tested body. Unfortunately, State fans didn’t get to see him last year due to numerous injuries, one of which was a nagging sports hernia. And there wasn’t much news on whether we’d get to see him this year either.
As the 2022-23 slate started, NC State’s frontcourt looked loaded. They had Mahorcic, Burns, and Ebe at the 5. They had Clark and Ross at the 4. There really wasn’t much talk about Gantt, in fact, some wondered if he would ever even suit up for the Pack.
Then, on November 15th, in NC State’s 3rd game of the season, Gantt finally checked in.
He logged 12 minutes, played hard defense, but only finished with 3 rebounds and an assist. He didn’t score.
Then 5 games later we saw him again, this time vs. William and Mary. 9 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds. Then the next game (vs. Pitt) he logged 14 minutes, had 3 points, 4 boards and a steal. Gantt then got a game off before coming back and playing 14 minutes vs. Miami. Zero points, 4 boards. Then the next game he came back with 12 minutes vs Furman. Zero points 2, boards.
Gantt was providing ‘breather’ minutes for the Pack, allowing his teammates to get a quick break before coming back in. It was hard for him to get in any sort of flow, but it was clear that he plays hard and rebounds the basketball. The question was, where does he really fit with this team?
Jack Clark, State’s starting 4 man, was the conference’s 9th best rebounder and was averaging 9 points per game, however, he was shooting just 40% on the season and 26% from 3, while taking 8 shots per game. Clark wasn’t providing much offense for NC State, but he was doing a good job of guarding the perimeter and rebounding the basketball.
That’s why when it was announced that Clark would miss the Duke game with an abdominal injury, NC State fans were very nervous.
Ernest Ross has come back this season from injury playing with a lot of hesitancy. He’s averaging just 2.2 pts and 1.7 rebounds in 9 minutes per game. Ross just looks a little lost this season and seems to be shying away from contact way more often than we saw last season, something NC State can’t afford from their 4 man. So where would they turn?
Keatts decided it was time to throw Greg Gantt in the fire vs. #16 Duke, ready or not.
Immediately it paid dividends.
Gantt registered the first 3 rebounds of the game, blocked the first shot, and score the first 2 points for NC State.
Gantt set the tone for the Pack. NC State had been playing a bit soft since big man Dusan Mahorcic went down with a knee injury. Clark was putting up good numbers, but pairing him with Burns and Dowuona, you had a real finesse front court. Don’t get me wrong, those guys are good players in their own right, but NC State’s frontcourt wasn’t contesting shots, bodying up opposing bigs, and doing the dirty work in the paint. I mentioned it as my #1 thing to correct in my pre-game piece on the Duke game.
Gantt provided a physical presence in the middle, bodying up larger defenders, contesting every rebound, diving for loose ball, but most importantly, he’s a great off-ball defender.
Watch Gantt defend and he’s constantly seeing man and ball. He’s great with his help-side positioning, putting him in a good spot to come help, or just hedge when teams start going down low again Dowuona. In fact, I think over the past 2 games, you’ve seen Ebe look a lot better down low. Part of that has been his play, but part of that has been the Greg Gantt lurking on help side. Just watch the fist possession of this video. Focus on Gantt.
Gantt plays intense, in-the-passing-lane defense, constantly seeing his man and the ball in his periphery. Then when a shot goes up, He finds his man, boxes out and attacks the rebound. In this case, it gets knocked away by Dowuona’s man (who was not boxed out). But Gantt doesn’t give up on the play, he immediately reads the situation, sees that there is about to be an easy put back over Dowuona, and comes in with the blindside block.
That possession is a microcosm of what Greg Gantt has given NC State since his injection into the starting lineup.
Gantt is shooting just 30% from the field and just 16% from long range, but he’s taking less than 2 shots per game. Clark isn’t hitting at THAT much better of a clip to be honest (Clark is 10% better in both FG% and 3pt%).
Meanwhile, Gantt is giving NC State just about as much rebounding as Jack Clark was giving them. Clark averaged .25 rebounds per minute played, while Gantt is averaging .23 rebounds per minute played.
With Gantt in, NC State loses an offensive option in Clark, but honestly, it seems to be freeing up more shots for Joiner, Smith, and Burns, the guys you really want shooting the basketball right now. Plus he’s giving you a grit and physicality in the paint that you were missing since Mahorcic went down.
Some may look at the stats and think this is a crazy take, but since Greg Gantt has gotten into the starting lineup, NC State is playing some of its best basketball to date. Their defense has been stellar. With Morsell, Joiner, and Gantt on the floor, you have 3 lockdown defenders, and teams have struggled to find good shots vs. this lineup. And while he isn’t going to move the needle offensively, this team has more than enough offense to go around. What it needs is a few guys who take pride in getting stops.
Clark may return (we hope), but Gantt has proven that he deserves his share of minutes and until Mahorcic returns, might be the option Keatts decides to roll with for the time being.
Because, if you ask me, Gantt brought what this Wolfpack team was missing, and may have just saved the season in the process.
NC State Basketball
NC State’s Terquavion Smith Will Forgo His Remaining College Eligibility & Declare for NBA Draft
Well, it’s official. NC State Sophomore Terquavion Smith will forgo his remaining two years of college eligibility and officially declare for the 2023 NBA Draft.
Here’s what Smith had to say to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony regarding his decision.
“I’m forgoing my college eligibility and going all the way in,” Smith said. “I’m thankful for everything the NC State coaching staff and fans have done for me. This is the right decision for me to take care of my family.”
“I showed a lot of different things this year,” Smith said. “Teams wanted to see me be more of a point guard, making the right play, making the right decisions. They wanted to see me improve my finishing, and I increased that. I showed I can be a leader.”
“I improved my grades. I’m a year closer to getting my degree now. You only get one chance to be a college student and get that college vibe. There was no rush for me. I’m ready to contribute to an NBA team now.”
“I’m feeling good about everything now,” Smith said. “I came back to do what I needed to do. I feel like I did everything the right way. I know what’s coming now in the pre-draft process because I’ve been there already and know what to expect. I’ll be a lot more confident in myself now. It’s going to be a straight grind.” (ESPN)
Smith earned 2nd Team All-ACC honors this year, averaging 17.9 points and 4.1 assists per game.
He currently ranks 30th on ESPN’s Top-100 2023 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings. In most NBA Mock Drafts, Smith is projected as a late first round pick.
Smith’s career scoring average of 17.1 ranks 8th in school history. He made 187 three point shots in two seasons, ranking 8th all-time in NC State history. His 96 made three-pointers last year are the most ever by a Freshman in school history, and his 91 made three-pointers made this year are the most ever by a Sophomore.
If Smith goes on to be taken in the 1st round of the 2023 NBA Draft, it will be the first person to do so from NC State since Dennis Smith Jr. was taken 9th overall in 2017. If Smith is taken in the first round, the would become the 17th player in school history to do so.
NC State Basketball
NC State’s Men’s Basketball 2022-23 Season: BY THE NUMBERS
NC State’s Men’s Basketball 2022-23 season has come and gone, and I thought we should take a moment to look back on this season BY THE NUMBERS.
- NC State finished the season with a 23-11 overall record.
- The 23 wins are the 2nd most of the Kevin Keatts era.
- In 2018-19, the Wolfpack had 24 wins (2 in the NIT)
- The 23 wins are the 2nd most of the Kevin Keatts era.
- The Wolfpack had 22 regular season wins.
- This was the most regular season wins since 2012-13.
- NC State had 12 ACC regular season wins.
- This is the most conference wins since they increased the slate of conference games to 20 in 2019-20.
- It’s the most conference wins since 1973-74, when the Wolfpack was 12-0 in ACC play. Obviously this stat is not representative of the best conference performance by NC State since 1973-74, because they played significantly more conference games than years past.
- The Wolfpack’s winning percentage in ACC play was 60%, which is the 2nd highest winning percentage in conference play under Kevin Keatts.
- In his first season in 2017-18, the Wolfpack’s ACC winning percentage was 61.1%.
- NC State shot 45% from the field this season;.
- This is the 2nd to worst shooting season under Kevin Keatts, trailing only 41.3% last year.
- The Wolfpack shot 34.7% from three-point range.
- That number is the 4th best in 6 seasons under Kevin Keatts.
- NC State shot 72.2% from the free-throw line.
- This is the 2nd best number under Kevin Keatts (72.5% last year was the best year).
- For the first time since 2018-19, NC State won the rebounding margin over their opponents on the year.
- It was the 2nd highest rebounding margin under Kevin Keatts, with +1.7 margin. (In 2018-19, the margin was +4.3)
- NC State averaged 77.7 points per game, which is the third highest number under Kevin Keatts, but the highest since 2018-19.
- The Wolfpack forced 477 turnovers, which is the 3rd highest total under Kevin Keatts, and the most since 2018-19.
- NC State only committed 320 turnovers, which is the lowest total under Keatts (328 in 2020-21, which was a shortened season, was the lowest before.)
- NC State held opponents to a 44.5% field goal percentage, which is the lowest since 2019-20, and the third lowest under Keatts.
- The Wolfpack held opponents to 31.6% from three, which is tied for the 2nd lowest percentage under Keatts.
- NC State had 434 assists, which is tied for the 3rd most in a season under Keatts.
- The Wolfpack had 152 blocks, which is the most in a single season under Keatts.
- NC State finished ranked 51 in KenPom’s
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.
This is so random. Why does Gopack.com have on the schedule, the team we’re playing vs itself. I just looked and apparently Maimi is vs Miami at 12:00. All the games are listed this way. Anyway, just to make sure, we play Maimi at 12:00PM??? They’re not coming to Raliegh to play with themselves, are they?
We now have excellent defenders at the 1, 3, and 4. And Terquavion is getting better and better defensively, as is Ebe.
Solid defense and we’re rebounding as well as we have in a while, this team is looking better and better.
There is a whole SLEW of people who were calling Gantt a “wasted Scholarship” and were actively looking to see if we could drop his scholarship owe him a handed written apologize
Gantt brings toughness and intensity, that helps set the tone for the entire game, so I like him starting. His play makes me wonder what could have been had we had both him and Manny last season. We focused on Manny a lot but its now clear we also lost a lot without Gantt. Our defense would have been so much better. But back to today, Gantt seems to be a good fit to what we are doing, but lets not forget the improved play of JJ and Smith in recent games, and even Ebe, as well as solid contributions… Read more »