The Wolfpacker

Sept.-Oct. 2020

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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32 ■ THE WOLFPACKER "He's almost certainly their best player," basketball analyst Brian Geisinger said of Funderburk. "I think DJ actually kind of flew under the radar in 2019. He was objectively one of the 10 or 15 best players in the league, and he was phenomenal on both ends of the court." Funderburk will be the team's top return- ing scorer and rebounder after averaging 12.8 points (third on last year's roster) and 6.1 re- bounds (second) per game in 2019-20. Dan- iels chipped in 12.7 points (fourth) and 5.3 rebounds (third) per game, and will be as the team's top returning facilitator after averag- ing 2.2 assists per game last season. He's also capable of guarding opposing point guards. "You're definitely going to see Devon Daniels play on the ball [defensively] a fair amount," Geisinger said. "He was also a pretty good pick-and-roll player last season. He shot 50 percent out of the pick-and-roll, which was No. 3 in the ACC amongst play- ers with at least 100 possessions last season. "He knows how to facilitate and he has good chemistry, especially with DJ Funder- burk on those on the pick-and-roll lob passes." Beyond the two fifth-year senior All-ACC contenders, the Wolfpack will have a deep mix of young and experienced talent that should give head coach Kevin Keatts his deepest ros- ter to date entering year four at NC State. Senior guard Braxton Beverly, junior for- ward Jericole Hellems and redshirt sopho- more center Manny Bates all started in at least 17 of the Pack's 32 contests last sea- son, while redshirt junior guard Thomas Allen — a transfer from Nebraska that sat out last season — will provide a third up- perclassman option in the backcourt. Beverly and Allen will likely be the top pe- rimeter scorers on the team, although several on the roster have shot better than 30 percent on three-point field goals in years past. Bev- erly was the best option from beyond the arc on the Pack last season, shooting 37.3 percent from deep (50 of 134) despite playing with a hurt back for a majority of conference play. In Allen's sophomore season at Nebraska in 2018-19, the 6-1 guard shot 36.0 percent on three-point field goals and ranked eighth in the Big Ten with 1.3 steals per game. "Beverly's main thing is going to be spot-up shooting, catch and shoot, that's his game," Geisinger said. "With Allen, the rep is certainly that he's a low-usage spot- up shooter and he was a darn good spot-up player at Nebraska. I also think there's some defensive utility with him that can really be beneficial for State defensively." Hellems will likely mix and match between playing the role of a wing and a small-ball four that could provide another double-digit scoring option for Keatts. Up until suffering a head injury against Wake Forest last Decem- ber, Hellems started in eight of the Pack's first nine contests and had averaged 12.3 points per game up to that point. He finished with a 9.5-point clip in 31 games and 17 starts. Bates returns to what should be an elite defensive duo in the post with Funderburk Funderburk is the team's top returning scorer and rebounder after averaging 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in 2019-20. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN BY JUSTIN H. WILLIAMS t was good news for Wolfpack fans in a year scarce of it when DJ Funderburk officially announced he would return for his fifth-year senior season July 31. Following the abrupt end to the college basketball season in March, Funderburk and fellow returning fifth-year senior Devon Daniels ini- tially submitted their names for the NBA Draft early entrant list while still leaving the option to return on the table. After months of the deadline to return being pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on draft- related workouts, NC State's two top returning scorers made their decisions to return to school for the 2020-21 season before the end of summer. I HE'S BACK Fifth-Year Senior Forward DJ Funderburk Returns To What May Be Kevin Keatts' Deepest Roster Yet

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