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NC State Basketball

Key Takeaways from Kevin Keatts’ Preseason Press Conference



NC State head coach Kevin Keatts met with the media for his preseason press conference last week. Here’s the key takeaways from what he had to say.

Point Guard Position

  • It’s a lot of competition.
    • You got Michael O’Connell, who has played a lot of basketball at Power Five [Stanford Transfer] that can play the point.
    • With D.J. Horne [Arizona St. Transfer], he’s in the same situation, but he’s been more of a combo guard his whole life.
      • It’s always great to get a young man to come back home [he played at Trinity Christian in Raleigh].
      • He’s here, he’s been positive, and he’s been great.
      • He’s older…a great older guy to have in the locker room, let alone his ability to score the basketball.
      • He will put you a little bit in the mindset of Terquavion and Jarkel, because he’s a really offensive-minded player.
    • Then, you’ve got 2 guys who completely had to play against Jarkel Joiner and Terquavion Smith in Breon Pass and L.J. Thomas.
  • We’ve got a lot of options. I don’t know who we will go with ultimately at the end.

Power Forward Position

  • Power forward, we’ve got a lot of options.
  • We could play big.
    • We could go back to when we had D.J. Funderburk and Manny Bates playing, because I love what Mohamed Diarra [Missouri Transfer] is bringing.
  • I love what Ben Middlebrooks [Clemson Transfer] brings, and then you’ve got Dennis Parker [Freshman], and then you’ll have the opportunity to play M.J. Rice [Kansas Transfer] at some of those positions also.


  • We have possibly 10 guys that we can put in the game.
  • I won’t make hockey substitutions where we go five in and five out, but I do think for the first time in a long time, we have 2 point guards, 2 shooting guards, 2 small forwards, 2 power forwards, and 2 centers.
    • Then we’ve got a lot of interchangeable parts that can play different positions.

D.J. Burns

  • He’s going to be mayor of this city one day. He is. He is what he is.
  • I’m going to have the best back-to-the-basket post guy.
  • He’s tough. He’s lefty. He can score it in different ways.
  • You don’t get any assists off of him because he’ll catch it and dribble 4 or 5 times to be able to score the basketball.

D.J. in Foul Trouble

  • Because his hands are so good, he reaches a lot.
    • Even on ball screens, he’s always thinking he can pick somebody.
    • What we’ve said is, “Hey, man, you can’t do that. You’ve got to wall off. You’ve got to do a good job. You can’t reach. You’ve got to stay in the game. You have to do your work early on the defensive end.
    • A lot of his fouls don’t come off the guy he’s guarding.
      • It’s our guards getting blown by, and he’s reaching and not rolling up or jumping when he’s in a restricted area.
      • Part of that, as we’ve talked about, our guards have to guard the basketball…and then, D.J., when they do come in, you can’t give up stupid fouls.

D.J. Getting Fouled

  • I think he gets clobbered. He plays through it.
  • The biggest conversation that we’ve had [with officials], is that when he catches the ball almost close to the 3-point line, you shouldn’t be able to have a closed elbow.
    • When he starts there, technically, he’s a perimeter player that time.
    • Once he gets close to the block is when you can use your elbow.

D.J.’s Passing

  • I see him as a passer.
    • His assist to turnover ratio is not great. But, think about this now…he makes every big pass and big play that you need to.
    • We’ll run the offense through him at times where he can become a passer and all that stuff.
    • We will run some things where he’ll be able to make some plays out of the post by passing the ball.
    • He’s going to get all type of double teams and everything else because he has all year long.

True Freshman Dennis Parker Jr. 

  • What makes Dennis Parker really, really unique is that he plays hard.
    • One thing I’ve always said is that the hardest-playing team typically gives us the best chance to win, and when you look at Dennis, he won’t put you in the mindset of a Freshman.
  • He runs the floor. He’s athletic. He can play multiple positions. He can guard more than one position.
  • I’m really excited about him as a Freshman.
  • He’s going to play some Small Forward for us. Also when we play small ball, I think he can play that ‘Torin Dorn role’, being able to play some 4 for us.

Kam Woods Availability to Play [North Carolina A&T Transfer]

  • Well, we had those conversations up front. We talked about the opportunities here.
    • “We would have to file a waiver for you to be eligible under the current situation, but if the waiver doesn’t go through, then, if you’re going to come to NC State, you’ll have to accept the fact that you’re going to have to sit out a year, like it used to be.”
    • He was completely fine with that.
    • I tried to set the expectation where it was and make sure that we both understood this as what it could be.
  • We should be filing a waiver for him soon, and we’ll live with whatever the results are.
  • He’s good. You don’t average 17 points in Division I, no matter what level, unless you can really score the basketball.
    • He’s gotten a lot stronger. He’s shooting the ball a little bit more consistently at this level.
    • He would be a great addition to our roster.
    • Once again, I’ll go back and say it…I don’t know if he’s going to be eligible or not, but if he is, I think he could help us.

Mohamed Diarra

  • He’s been our most complete player from the summer until now. He’s been really good.
  • He’s talented. He rebounds the basketball. He can step out and shoot it.
  • He handles the ball on a break.
    • He thinks he’s a point guard. I know he’s not, but he thinks he is.
  • He’s been really good. I’ve been impressed with him.
  • His work ethic has completely changed since he got here.
    • He wasn’t into it as much, but now he’s found some success through practice.
    • He’s kind of taken off to another level.
  • He’ll play some 4 and 5 for us.
    • He won’t play Small Forward, like he may think, but he’ll help us out a lot.

Ben Middlebrooks

  • We talked about the opportunity to play.
    • We don’t have a starting Power Forward.
    • There’s opportunities to play minutes at the 5. There’s opportunity to play minutes at the 4.
    • There’s opportunities to play.
  • Ben just wanted a different role. He was stuck behind a really good basketball player in P.J. Hall, and he wanted the opportunity to play some Power Forward, and that’s why he’s here.

Best on-the-ball defender

  • “I like Jayden Taylor.
  • Last year I said that Casey Morsell would be on the all-defensive team.
    • Casey didn’t listen to me enough.
    • He’s a really good defensive player.
  • I would say Jayden or Casey could play that role more than anything. More so Jayden than Casey.

Matthew is Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He writes for all sports, with a focus on football and recruiting, and is in charge of business strategy. He is an NC State alum who majored in business. Matthew is also the lead pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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2 months ago

Agree. Happy to see some news. I’d really like to see something on DJ Burns and body transformation.

2 months ago

I am glad to hear anything, even news that is almost a week old. Diarra and Horne stand out in the short clip from 1st day practice. I think we have a lot of talent. Will the blend into a team? Can 10 players share 200 minutes? I love our depth; can these guys play with the defensive intensity and offensive speed to overcome more talented teams? Can Parker and Rice be as good as Torin Dorn at small forward (note this IS and always be DT’s spot. Tough shoes to fill). Four point guards means fouls to give, but… Read more »

NC State Basketball

NC State 84 BC 78: BOX SCORE



NC State improved to 5-2 this afternoon, defeating Boston College 84-78 on the road, winning their 2023-24 ACC opener. Below is the box score.

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NC State Basketball

NC State is a Slight Underdog in ACC Opener vs. Boston College



NC State (4-2) will play their first ACC game of the 2023-24 season tomorrow on the road against Boston College (5-2), and they enter the game as slight underdogs. The Wolfpack are 1.5-point underdogs, and the Total is 150.5.

  • NC State is 0-2 Straight Up as underdogs
    • BC is 4-1 Straight Up as favorites.
  • NC State is 2-4 Against the Spread.
    • BC is 4-3 Against the Spread
  • The Total has gone Under in 2 games for NC State, Over in 3 and Pushed in 1.
    • The Total has gone Under in 3 games for Boston College and Over in 4.
  • NC State is 6-4 in their last 10 games against BC Straight Up.
    • NC State is 4–6 Against the Spread in their last 10 games against BC.
    • The Total has gone Under in 5 games, and Under in the other 5.

NC State

Boston College 


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NC State Basketball

#5 NC State 70 Vanderbilt 62: BOX SCORE (with notes)



The 5th ranked NC State Women’s Basketball team improved to 8-0 tonight, defeating Vanderbilt 70-62 in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.


  • Saniya Rivers scored 20+ points for the 2nd time this season, scoring 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting. She also chipped in 8 rebounds and 2 steals.
  • River Baldwin posted her first double-double of the season. She scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards.
  • Aziaha James has now scored in double figures in 7 of 8 games, scoring 14 points tonight, shooting 6 of 10 from the field and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
  • Freshman Zoe Brooks led the Pack in steals (4) and assists (4).
  • NC State didn’t shoot well, making only 39% of their shots. Fortunately, they held Vandy to 34.3% shooting.

The Wolfpack will host Illinois State on Sunday at 2pm.

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NC State Basketball

NC State Stat Leaders Heading into the ACC Opener vs Boston College



This Saturday, NC State heads to Boston College for the now-annual early ACC opener. The Pack will face off against the Eagles at 4pm on ACC Network. Here is where the team is statistically after 6 games.

  • Casey Morsell leads NC State in scoring with 14.5 ppg.
  • The Pack has 4 double-digit scorers this season. Morsell (14.5), Jayden Taylor (13.3), DJ Burns (13) and DJ Horne (11.2)
    (Last season State had 4 double-digit scorers as well. Terquavion (17.9), Joiner (17), Burns (12.5) and Morsell (11.8)) 
  • After their top 4 scorers there is a big dip. Parker comes in at 6.8, O’Connell at 6.3, and Middlebrooks at 5.5 ppg.
    (Last season Jack Clark was 5th on the team in scoring at 9 points and Mahorcic was at 8.7. However, both guys missed a large chunk of the season.) 
  • Burns is leading NC State in rebounding this year at 5.3 per game. Diarra is next with 5.3 (but is currently hampered by an ankle injury.) 
  • O’Connell is leading NC State in assists with 3.3 per game, and Burns is up next with 2.5. PG DJ Horne is only averaging 2.
  • LJ Thomas and Mike O’Connell are tied in leading the team at .15 assists per minute.
  • Jayden Taylor is leading NC State in 3pt %, shooting an outstanding 45.8%, while Morsell is up next at 34.6%. Horne is close behind at 33%.
    (LJ Thomas is shooting 50% from 3, but only has 2 attempts.) 
  • Burns is leading the bigs, shooting 56.5% from the floor, while Middlebrooks is close behind at 54.2%. Dennis Parker Jr is coming in at 45.2%.
  • For the guards, it’s Casey Morsell leading the way at 44.6% from the floor, while O’Connell is next up at 43.4%. Taylor is shooting 42.4%, and DJ Horne is struggling a bit, shooting just 34.8% from the field.
  • Jayden Taylor is turning the ball over the most at 1.8 times per game, while Burns is next at 1.7. Morsell is at 1.5 and O’Connell is at 1.2. DJ Horne has been doing a good job of protecting the basketball, turning it over just .3 times per game.

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