The Wolfpacker

March-April 2020 issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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38 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY JACEY ZEMBAL C State needs peak performances from redshirt junior center Derek "D.J." Funder- burk to reach the NCAA Tourna- ment this season. Funderburk has been the Wolfpack's best low-post scorer, but also has the ability to step outside and make mid-range jumpers. His inside-outside prowess has helped him find the sweet scoring spots in zone defenses, and works well in tandem with fellow Cleve- land native Markell Johnson, NCSU's senior point guard. Head coach Kevin Keatts will often tease the 6-foot-10, 225-pounder about his assist- to-turnover ratio — he had eight assists and 36 turnovers through his first 26 games played — but he has improved across the board this season. Through Feb. 28, Funderburk was aver- aging 12.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 25.5 minutes per game while shooting a blistering 60.5 percent from the field. That last number would've led the ACC if he had enough at- tempts to qualify. Funderburk, who is still on the slender side, is also adept at draw- ing fouls and a quality free throw shooter at 76.1 percent. "He understands where we need him best at," Keatts said. "The scoring side, to play great defense and rebound the basketball, and to make some shots around the rim. "He's starting to do those things. We are seeing a guy maturing right in front of us." Funderburk has also proven he can handle both power forwards and centers on the de- fensive end of the court. In the Wolfpack's system, the "one through four players" will switch along the perimeter, but the center doesn't. Keatts was worried about Funderburk keeping up with smaller players, hence why he rotated with redshirt freshman center Manny Bates. Midway through the season, the Wolfpack became comfortable playing MATURITY PAYING OFF D.J. Funderburk Is Leading The Way Inside For The Wolfpack Funderburk scored 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the 88-66 win over No. 6 Duke Feb. 19 for his first-ever 20-point game in ACC action. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN N

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