The Wolfpacker

November 2019

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 37 of 139

36 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2019-20 TOP THREE FRONTCOURTS 1. Louisville: The Cardinals have one of the ACC's best big men in junior power forward Jordan Nwora, but also sheer numbers inside. Former Connecticut transfer Steven Enoch showcased great improvement while averaging 9.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last year, and junior Malik Williams (7.7 points and 6.1 rebounds) also took a step forward, but he will miss the start of the season due to injury. The next wave features four-star freshmen Jae'Lyn Withers (No. 103 overall recruit) and Aidan Igiehon (No. 54). 2. North Carolina: Junior Garrison Brooks, graduate transfer Justin Pierce of William & Mary and incoming fresh - man Armando Bacot should keep the Tar Heels solid in the paint. If junior center Sterling Manley gets healthy, he could challenge for minutes and contribute. Brooks averaged 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last year, while Pierce posted clips of 14.9 points and 8.2 rebounds for the Tribe. Bacot was ranked No. 27 overall by in the class of 2019. 3. Virginia: Duke has a great duo, but Virginia has the experience and strength in numbers. The Cavaliers feature 6-9 senior center Mamadi Diakite, who put together an impres - sive run while helping UVA win the national title last season. Senior combo forward Braxton Key will have an increased role, and UVA will look for depth from redshirt junior Jay Huff and redshirt freshman Francisco Caffaro at center. TOP THREE BACKCOURTS 1. North Carolina: Freshman point guard Cole Anthony could challenge for All-America honors, but the X-factor is whether graduate transfer Christian Keeling can adjust after averaging 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game at Charleston Southern. Senior wing Brandon Robinson and sophomore Rechon Black, a pair of former top-100 recruits, provide depth. 2. NC State: The Wolfpack will be experienced and versatile with senior point guard Markell Johnson, junior combo guard Braxton Beverly and fifth- year senior wing C.J. Bryce. The Wolfpack also have redshirt junior Devon Daniels, who could be ready to crack the starting lineup. 3. Pittsburgh: Sophomores Xavier Johnson, Trey Mc - Gowens and Au'Diese Toney jump-started Pitt's rebuild last year. The slashing Johnson handled the point guard duties and averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 assists per game. McGowens proved crafty on the wing at 11.6 points per contest, and Toney is a terrific athlete who averaged 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds a contest. TOP THREE FRESHMEN 1. Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina: NC State will play three of the's top five players from 2019 in Anthony (No. 4 ranking), Memphis center James Wiseman (No. 1) and Duke post player Vernon Carey Jr. (No. 5). The son of former NBA point guard Greg Anthony attended Archbishop Molloy in New York City his first three years be - fore going to Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy. The 6-3, 190-pounder earned MVP honors at the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic, and had 25 points to share MVP honors in a win for Team USA at the Nike Hoop Summit. 2. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke: The son of the former Miami (Fla.) and Miami Dolphins offensive lineman of the same name, Vernon Jr. is a 6-10, 270-pounder from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School. Carey averaged 21.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game his senior year, and played in the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic. The big lefty also played for USA Basketball, winning a gold medal on the under-17 and under-16 squads. 3. Casey Morsell, SG, Virginia: Others are ranked higher and maybe will have better statistics, but Morsell is a proven winner who listed No. 49 coming out of Washington (D.C.) St. John's College. The 6-3, 195-pounder averaged 17.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game his senior year. Morsell averaged 9.9 points and shot 39.5 percent on three-pointers for Team Takeover while helping it win the 2018 Nike Peach Jam title. UNC freshman Cole Anthony was named first-team All-ACC in the preseason and finished second to Louisville's Jordan Nwora in the Player of the Year balloting. PHOTO BY NICK LUCERO/COURTESY RIVALS.COM ACC Basketball Quick Guide The Names, Teams And Numbers To Know Heading Into The 2019-20 Campaign TOP FIVE PLAYERS 1. Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina's No. 4 overall prospect in the 2019 class was a true prep prodigy who averaged 18.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 10.1 assists per game his senior year at Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy. The 6-3, 190-pounder from New York City picked UNC over Oregon, Georgetown, Notre Dame and many others, and will be entrusted to replace lottery pick Coby White, who was a one-and-done standout for the Tar Heels. 2. Jordan Nwora, PF, Louisville The 6-8, 215-pound stretch four broke out last season to average 17.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest, and he shot 37.4 percent from three-point land. He had averaged just 5.7 points in 12.0 minutes per game the year prior as a freshman. The No. 94 overall recruit in the 2017 class torched Boston College for 32 points and five three-pointers Jan. 16, and scored at least 20 points in 13 games. He is the league's reigning Most Improved Player after being named third-team All-ACC. 3. Markell Johnson, PG, NC State The Wolfpack floor general seems to be overlooked when discussion turns to who the top players are in the ACC, but he should be poised for a great senior year. He averaged 12.6 points and 4.2 assists per game last year, while he improved to 42.2 percent from three-point land. The Cleveland native had a career-high 27 points in the 78-71 win over Auburn last year. 4. John Mooney, PF, Notre Dame The 6-9, 242-pound senior has blossomed into a quality inside-outside force for the Fighting Irish, and was the runner-up for the ACC Most Improved Player award last year while earning third-team all-conference laurels. He averaged 14.1 points and 11.2 rebounds per game last year, and shot 37.4 percent from beyond the arc. He finished with 20 double- doubles in points and rebounds. 5. Chris Lykes, PG, Miami The smallest player in the ACC is also terrifying to other point guards with his on-ball defense and ability to get by play- ers. The 5-7, 157-pounder averaged 16.2 points, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game last year for the Hurricanes. The junior reached 20-plus points in 10 games and had a season-high 28 against NC State Jan. 3. BY JACEY ZEMBAL

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