The Wolfpacker

November 2019

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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70 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2019-20 BY JACEY ZEMBAL A healthy and consistent Markell John- son has proven to be a major problem for ACC opponents. The NC State senior point guard is hop- ing to find a season-long groove, and ACC media members have high expectations for the Cleveland native. Johnson was named preseason second-team All-ACC and even received one vote for preseason ACC Player of the Year. Johnson's return after testing the NBA Draft waters has NC State slotted to finish sixth in the ACC by league media. Johnson averaged 12.6 points and 4.2 as- sists per game, and shot a career-high 42.2 percent from three-point land. His numbers were skewed a tad by his scoreless nine- minute stint against Pittsburgh and when he had two points in four minutes against UNC Asheville Nov. 13. Last season, Johnson's campaign was interrupted for the second straight year. He fell down awkwardly while trying to go for a block against Pittsburgh Jan. 12, and missed three full games, which NCSU went 1-2 in. He returned Jan. 26 in the win against Clemson, but then it took him a few games to find his stride again. Johnson showcased his talent in some of NC State's biggest games. He had 21 points in 31 minutes in the 79-75 loss at Wisconsin Nov. 27, and proved dominant with 27 points on 5-of-8 shooting on three- pointers in the big 78-71 win versus then- No. 7 Auburn Dec. 19. In the ACC, Johnson came through with 23 points and went 4 of 9 on three-pointers in a must-win game against Clemson in the league tournament. He also played some of his best ball in the NIT, averaging 19.3 points and five assists per game. Center D.J. Funderburk Suspended 'Indefinitely' To Start Season NC State basketball went through last season short-handed in the post, and that could be the case again, at least at the start of the season. The Wolfpack announced Sept. 30 that redshirt junior center D.J. Funderburk would be suspended "indefinitely," which head coach Kevin Keatts expounded Oct. 3 dur- ing the Wolfpack's media day session. He reportedly received four parking boots for parking tickets on his car and was charged with larceny property damage at the Reyn- olds Coliseum parking deck Sept. 25. It remains to be seen how many, if any, games that Funderburk misses. What isn't a mystery is that he'll be greatly missed in the middle when he is absent. NCSU opens the season against Georgia Tech Nov. 5 at PNC Arena. "I won't get into much of it because that's our internal deal that is placed upon him ba- sically from the basketball program," Keatts said. "I will say that I have a certain expec- tation of what I think an NC State player should be. Right now, he hasn't met that. "There is no timetable for his return. He's got some benchmarks that I want him to meet to be able to join the team. When it happens, he'll be a part of it. If it doesn't, he won't." The 6-10, 225-pound Funderburk started his college career at Ohio State, but after redshirting his freshman year, he was dis- missed by its newly hired head coach Chris Holtmann. He landed at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla., and NC State was able to easily land him thanks to having Funderburk's former prep coach at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., on its staff — former assistant coach A.W. Hamilton, who is now the head coach at Eastern Kentucky. Funderburk proved to be a quality offen- sive performer at various points last year. He averaged 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 19.9 minutes per game, and he shot an impressive 55.2 percent from the field. Keatts pointed out that while he is sus- pended, he won't be practicing with the team. "Right now, he's not allowed to do any- thing basketball related," Keatts said. "He's to maintain academics. He's also allowed to come in this building and work out. As far as anything team related, we don't have him involved." NC State will turn to redshirt freshman center Manny Bates and Missouri-Kansas City graduate transfer Danny Dixon to fill the void. The combination of Bates dislo- cating his shoulder and then-freshman cen- ter Ian Steere transferring to St. John's set the Wolfpack back in the post last season. The 6-11 Bates was ranked No. 139 overall nationally in the class of 2018 by WOLFPACK BASKETBALL Markell Johnson Earns Preseason Second-Team All-ACC Honors PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH (First-place votes in parentheses) 1. Duke (51), 1,564 2. North Carolina (19), 1,493 3. Louisville (29), 1,448 4. Virginia (12), 1,405 5. Florida State, 1,157 6. NC State, 1,038 7. Notre Dame, 915 8. Syracuse, 910 9. Miami, 768 10. Pitt, 577 11. Clemson, 564 12. Georgia Tech, 437 13. Boston College, 382 14. Virginia Tech, 334 15. Wake Forest, 328 Johnson was the top vote getter on the pre- season second-team All-ACC squad, and even received one vote for ACC Player of the Year. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN ACC MEDIA PRESEASON PREDICTIONS ALL-ACC First Team Jordan Nwora, Louisville, 95 Tre Jones, Duke, 89 Cole Anthony, North Carolina, 81 John Mooney, Notre Dame, 51 Mamadi Diakite, Virginia, 49 Second Team Markell Johnson, NC State, 39 Vernon Carey Jr., Duke, 19 Chris Lykes, Miami, 18 Garrison Brooks, North Carolina, 11 Trent Forrest, Florida State, 11 PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jordan Nwora, Louisville, 55 Cole Anthony, North Carolina, 31 Tre Jones, Duke, 19 John Mooney, Notre Dame, 3 Mamadi Diakite, Virginia, 2 Markell Johnson, NC State, 1 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR Cole Anthony, North Carolina, 89 Vernon Carey Jr., Duke, 8 Wendell Moore Jr., Duke, 5 Casey Morsell, Virginia, 3 Cassius Stanley, Duke, 3 Matthew Hurt, Duke, 3

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