The Wolfpacker

November 2019

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 29 of 139

28 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2019-20 NCSU assistant] A.W. [Hamilton] told me, 'Coach, he's got one weakness. He doesn't talk a lot.' And so we're still try- ing to get him to do that. "And then C.J. Bryce, he's been with me longer than anybody in the program and certainly we want some leadership from him. It's always tough when you transfer … especially when you transfer from a mid-major conference to a high- major conference. It's always tough to come in and try to be a leader. And I'm saying, 'Hey, you've been here for a cou- ple years now we need you to step up.'" Redshirt junior guard Blake Harris is another former transfer who played in 30 games last season for NC State and aver- aged 3.1 points and 1.5 assists per outing. He should be able to provide more depth. Frontcourt Has Potential The questions that surround NC State are more in the frontcourt. At the power forward position, it should be solid with a pair of players who can ably stretch the defense with their perimeter shooting. Sophomore forward Jericole Hellems made 22 three-pointers while averaging 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in his rookie season. Graduate transfer and senior forward Pat Andree once made 10 three-point- ers in a game for Lehigh. In addition to an excellent shooting touch, evidenced by 189 career threes, he provides great length (6-8) and experience (86 games played and 63 starts). It's the center of the paint that's the unknown. Redshirt junior D.J. Funder- burk offers considerable promise for the position, averaging 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in his first season in Raleigh. He left an impression on many that he was poised for a breakout year. "He showed flashes last year where I don't know if I'd use the word dominate just yet, [but] he's right in that cusp," Brown said. "If everything goes well, he has the offseason he needs to have, he could be an All-ACC player type for NC State." But the former junior college trans- fer did not apparently have that type of offseason, and he was suspended indefi- nitely by Keatts in September. In his absence, NC State will have 6-11 redshirt freshman Manny Bates and 6-10 graduate transfer and senior Danny Dixon from UMKC. Keatts compared Dixon, who averaged 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last year, to a player who did not return from last year's Pack squad: Wyatt Walker. The one difference is Dixon does not have Walker's trademark man-bun hair- style, Keatts joked. Bates has the potential to add a dimen- sion that the coach has not enjoyed as much as he would like in his defense so far in Raleigh: a true shot blocker. "He's a tremendous defender on the defensive end," Keatts said. "We really liked that part about him." If Funderburk makes it back in Keatts' goodwill and returns to the roster, the pieces could come together nicely for NC State — a veteran, older group of players with a chip on the shoulder af- ter missing the NCAA Tournament last season. "We just got to click," Johnson said. "We just have to gel, stay together, stay locked in, stay on the same page. The rest will be history." ■ Sophomore forward Jericole Hellems will have a bigger role this year, after playing in all 36 games off the bench last season and shooting 31.9 percent (22 of 69) from three-point range. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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