The Wolfpacker

November 2019

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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NOVEMBER 2019 ■ 81 BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2019-20 season, and appears the front-runner to replace Rogers at the four spot. "She had some big games and hit some critical shots for us down the stretch [in- cluding a 14-point effort at North Carolina last February]," Moore noted. Jada Rice, a 6-4 sophomore, is the final returnee among the bigs and is expected to contend for the backup role behind Cunane at the post. She saw very limited time last year (averaged 3.4 minutes in 22 appear- ances), and has been working on improving her mobility and consistency. A trio of promising newcomers in- side is led by 6-2 forward Jada Boyd, the No. 34-ranked overall player in the country by espnW and the Virginia Class 1 Player of the Year in 2018-19. "She's a super athletic kid who's a re- bounding machine," Moore said. "She can get us a lot more possessions off of that and can score too. Hopefully, she can defend as well." Jacksonville, Fla., native Camille Hobby averaged 18 points and 11 boards a game for Class 7A state runner-up Nease High School, earning Florida's Miss Basketball title and a first-team all-state selection. A small (6-1) but physical post player, Hobby is also effective from distance, according to Moore and Batth. "She's more a traditional, back-to-the- basket post, but she can hit the 15-footer," Batth said. Footwork and more aggressiveness are areas that need work, both coaches noted. The final member of NC State's recruit- ing class of 2019 wasn't supposed to be on the team until next fall. But Pilot Mountain, N.C., native Elle Sutphin, a 6-3 forward, graduated early from East Surrey High School and reclassified this summer, sign- ing with the Pack in July. A five-star prospect ranked the 39th-best player in the Class of 2020, Sutphin was the No. 1 prospect in North Carolina after averaging 21.9 points and 9.3 rebounds a game as a junior. "She has great mobility for her height," Batth said. "She can knock down the three, has a big motor and really knows the game." Both coaches acknowledge that, at 17, Sutphin has to overcome both inexperience at the college level, and the more mature physical size and strength she'll be facing. Network Debut Means Major Schedule Changes Similar to years past, Moore has at- tempted to toughen NC State's schedule each season, with the goal being to raise the team's RPI and strength of schedule numbers enough to guarantee an invite to the NCAA Tournament. This year's slate will take on a new look, however, thanks to the debut of the ACC Network. The demand for quality games to be televised nationally by the ESPN- affiliated network has meant a reduction in non-conference games, from 13 to 11, with the two missing contests replaced by ACC matchups. The new 18-game conference slate changes the Pack's previous two games per year with Wake Forest to just a single meeting, while adding Duke, Virginia and Virginia Tech as two-game opponents to an already existing two-game rivalry with North Carolina. In total, the Pack will play 15 teams that advanced to postseason play last year, in- cluding 10 that earned bids to the NCAA Tournament. Fourteen opponents won 20 or more games, led by national runner-up Notre Dame (35-4 last season) and Louis- ville (32-4), while five opponents (North Carolina A&T, Maine, Lamar, Maryland and the Irish) are defending conference regular-season or tournament champions. "You want that national exposure to get in front of recruits," Moore said, noting that 11 of NC State's games this season will be on national TV, the most ever, includ- ing ESPN's coverage of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup with Big Ten regular- season champ Maryland in December. Moore's measure of what success will be in 2019-20 hasn't changed in his seven years in Raleigh. "It's the same every year: be in position to get into the NCAA Tournament and see how far we can go," he said. "Obviously, you better your chances by earning a top- 16 seed and hosting the first rounds, which we've done the past two years. That will be the goal again." "I think we're on the verge of something great," added Konig. "It feels like we've been right there the last couple of years, and we've played with a chip on the shoul- der because we've felt we haven't gotten the respect we deserve. "This year it's different. We just want to prove we deserve to be highly ranked, and we're going to earn the right to stay here." ■ 2019-20 NC State Roster No. Name Pos. Ht. Class Hometown (High School) 1 Aislinn Konig G 5-10 Sr. Surrey, British Columbia (Brookswood Secondary) 2 Kaila Ealey G 5-9 5th-Sr. Raleigh (Needham Broughton) 3 Kai Crutchfield G 5-9 Jr. Raleigh (Millbrook) 5 Jada Boyd F 6-2 Fr. Petersburg, Va. (Appomattox) 11 Jakia Brown-Turner W 6-0 Fr. Oxon Hill, Md. (Bishop McNamara) 15 Kendal Moore G 5-6 Fr. Fayetteville, N.C. (Pine Forest) 20 Elle Sutphin F 6-3 Fr. Pilot Mountain, N.C. (East Surry) 23 Grace Hunter G 5-10 5th-Sr. Raleigh (Athens Drive) 24 Erika Cassell C 6-2 Sr. Marietta, Ga. (Holy Innocents) 25 Kayla Jones F 6-1 Jr. Jamesville, N.C. (Riverside) 31 Jada Rice C 6-4 So. Suwanee, Ga. (Collins Hill) 33 Elissa Cunane C 6-5 So. Summerfield, N.C. (Northern Guilford) 40 Katie Wadsworth G 5-6 Sr. Raleigh (Needham Broughton) 41 Camille Hobby F 6-1 Fr. Jacksonville, Fla. (Nease) Fifth-year senior guard Grace Hunter played in just 14 games last year due to injury but her per-game averages ranked second on the team in scoring (14.6) and rebounding (6.9). However, she may not be able to return until January. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS "All the expectations are a problem now because we're not going to sneak up on people like we've been able to do before. We're going to get everybody's 'A' game this year." ■ Head coach Wes Moore

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