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NC State Basketball

Key Takeaways from Kevin Keatts’ Preseason Press Conference

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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.

Depth

  • 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 Publisher and Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He is also the Lead Pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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Afterglow
Afterglow
9 months ago

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

Rev
Rev
9 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

Jersey Numbers for 2024-25 NC State Men’s Basketball Team Revealed

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The NC State Men’s Basketball team revealed the Jersey Numbers for their 2024-25 team yesterday.

Image

Numbers that are Staying the Same

Michael O’Connell – #12

Ben Middlebrooks – #34

Dennis Parker Jr. – #11

KJ Keatts – #13

Jordan Snell – #22

Numbers that have Changed

Jayden Taylor – #1 –> #8

Breon Pass – #10 –> #4

Numbers of New Players

Mike James – #0 (He wore #0 at Louisville last year)

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield – #1 (He wore #5 at Louisville last year)

Paul McNeil – #2 (He wore #2 in High School last year)

Dontrez Styles – #3 (He wore #0 at Georgetown last year)

Trey Parker – #5 (He wore #5 in High School last year)

Marcus Hill – #10 (He wore #0 at Bowling Green last year)

We don’t know what number Ismael Diouf will be wearing at NC State next year yet. 

 

 

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NC State Basketball

Kareem Richardson Promoted To Associate Head Coach at NC State

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RALEIGH, N.C. – NC State men’s basketball head coach Kevin Keatts announced Wednesday that assistant coach Kareem Richardson has been promoted to associate head coach effective immediately.

“I’m proud to promote Kareem to associate head coach,” Keatts said. “He is a valuable member of my staff and has really enhanced NC State both in his relationship with our players and staff, but also his ability to teach, scout and game plan. He is a well-rounded coach that has an impact on every facet of our program, and I feel fortunate to have him as part of my staff.”

The upcoming 2024-25 season will be Richardson’s third at NC State. The Pack has earned bids to the NCAA Tournament in both seasons Richardson has been on staff, including last season when NC State won the ACC Championship and advanced to the Final Four.

NC State has had three different guards (DJ Horne, Jarkel Joiner and Terquavion Smith) earn All-ACC honors under Richardson’s tutelage.

Richardson was previously head coach at UMKC for 2013-19 and has been an assistant coach at power conference programs such as Louisville, Xavier and Clemson in his 25-year coaching career.

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NC State Basketball

WATCH: Getting to Know NC State’s Dontrez Styles

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NC State Men’s Basketball is releasing videos helping fans get to know the new players on the 2024-25 roster.

Below is the video of Georgetown Transfer Forward Dontrez Styles (6’6″/212), with a transcript underneath.

I’m Dontrez Styles, a transfer from Georgetown University. I knew where I wanted to be. At the end of the day, I knew I wanted to come back home and play for a guy like Keatts. That was the main thing for me.

Being back home is amazing. My family can see me play every game now. An hour from Kinston, North Carolina. It’s a small city. I love it. Just growing there. A lot of great guys. A lot of great basketball players. My family is there. It’s my life.

I grew up in the Brandon Ingram era, so I went to every Kinston High School game. Just seeing him play motivated me to get in the gym and keep working. The grind has paid off.

It’s crazy. I would have never imagined this happening. It’s very rare for someone to go to North Carolina and NC State. Me being one of the first guys to do that, I believe it’s different, but I’m enjoying it so far. I can’t wait to get started.

Coach (Levi) Watkins recruited me when he was at Ole Miss. He’s been with me since my Sophomore year, I believe. Just having that relationship with them makes it easier every day.

Just being back, it’s going to be very fun, especially now. The hype is crazy. I can’t wait to be back home and get started, and hopefully win that National Championship.

_______

Styles was the 2nd leading scorer for Georgetown this past season, averaging 12.8 points per game, while grabbing 5.8 boards. He shot 36.8% from three.

Originally, Sytles was a consensus 4-Star prospect in UNC’s 2021 recruiting class. 247Sports ranked him as the #62 overall player nationally, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina, playing for Kinston High School.

After two seasons with the Tar Heels, Styles entered the Portal, and took an Official Visit to NC State and Georgetown, and ultimately chose the Hoyas.

Styles will be spending his final year of eligibility with NC State.

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NC State Basketball

WATCH: Getting to Know NC State’s Mike James

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NC State Men’s Basketball is releasing videos helping fans get to know the new players on the 2024-25 roster.

Below is the video of Louisville Transfer Guard Mike James (6’5″/200), with a transcript underneath.

I last played at the University of Louisville. I spent three years there. Played two. Redshirted my first year because of injury. I enjoyed my time there, but all good things got to come to an end, and I’m here at North Carolina State. 

Entering the Portal is just like going through High School recruitment again. You’re getting your phone blown up every other hour, every single day. You’ve got to get on long phone calls. You’re kind of going through the process again, but this time, you kind of know what you want. You’ve been through College Basketball, so you know what questions to ask, what to expect, and you kind of just get straight to the point. I feel like the process was similar, but different this time. It went a lot quicker, and I knew exactly what I wanted. I want to win at the end of the day. Playing time is earned, and all that stuff. You’ve got to come in here and take care of that. 

Winning is very important, and I haven’t done that so far, but that’s the one thing I want to change about my college career. Seeing y’all go on that run was really appealing to me. 

I like to get to the basket. Draw fouls. Finish at the rim. Knock down shots on the perimeter. Defend 1-4 positions on the other end. 

I want to come in and win. I want to be a leader for our team. I’m an older guy now, so I want to be a leader. I want to come in and win another ACC Championship, and make another NCAA Tournament run. 

_______

This past year, James averaged 12.6 points per game (3rd on the team) and 5 rebounds. He’s extremely physical and aggressive, taking 47% of his field goal attempts at the rim (making 46%). As a result, he draws a lot of fouls, ranking 10th in the ACC in Fouls Drawn, and 4th in Free Throw Rate. James made opponents pay this year when they put him on the line, making 81.8% from the charity stripe, which ranked 15th in the ACC.

James shot the ball better as a Redshirt Freshman, than he did this past season. His Effective Field Goal Percentage in 2022-23 was 55.8%, which ranked 19th in the ACC, and his True Shooting Percentage of 59.6% ranked 14th.

News broke about James entering the Transfer Portal back on March 25th, and NC State was quick to reach out. Kevin Keatts and his staff recruited the former 4-star prospect out of high school heavily, but he ultimately chose the Cardinals.

After redshirting his first year in Louisville due to torn achilles, James has been a starter for the Cardinals the past two years.

He does have the ability to knock down a three, making 34.8% for his career.

James has 2 years of eligibility remaining.

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