The Wolfpacker

Nov.-Dec. 2020

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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20 ■ THE WOLFPACKER 2020-2021 MEN'S BASKETBALL PREVIEW BY MATT CARTER he word versatile is defined as "able to adapt or to be adapted to many different functions or activities." It can also mean "changeable." If NC State's fourth-year head coach Kevin Keatts is correct, the 2020-21 version of Wolfpack men's basketball, COVID-19 pandemic- permitting, should be a classic example of versatility. It's the type of team that Keatts has been striving to put together since he took the job in the spring of 2017. "It's the most versatile roster that we've had," Keatts acknowledged. "I wish it was a perfect 2020 because now we feel confident that, every night, you'll finally get a chance to see our system fully implemented. "We know that we're going to have some challenges because everybody else will, but with that being said, I love our roster. I love our versatility. I love the fact that guys can play multiple positions." Keatts has 12 scholarship players at his disposal, and it is possible to envision a role for each of them. The complementary piece that each player brings to the team potentially allows Keatts to also tinker with lineups to focus on a need. For instance, need shooters? The arrival of freshman Cam Hayes plus now-eligi- ble Nebraska transfer and redshirt junior Thomas Allen can combine with returning senior Braxton Beverly to potentially pro- vide a three-guard lineup with each of the trio capable of hitting from deep. If Keatts wanted to pursue that angle fur- ther, he could line up junior Jericole Hellems, who made 34 three-pointers a year ago, at power forward and play fifth-year senior DJ Funderburk, who has occasionally connected from long range (four last season), in the post. Need a defensive lineup? Keatts has the ACC's best shot-blocker in redshirt sopho- more Manny Bates, a versatile defender in fifth-year senior guard Devon Daniels and the addition of freshman Shakeel Moore, an athletic guard that earned a reputation in high school of being an elite defender, which the coach has implied was well justified based on early returns from NC State's practices. Those are just two examples of how Keatts can mix and match his squad, and potentially become a difficult matchup for anybody the Wolfpack tips off against in 2020-21. "A lot of our players are versatile," Fun- derburk added. "That's what I like so much about this team. Anybody can play any- where." Ultimately, the goal is to put together a rotation that will get the Wolfpack back to the NCAA Tournament. Keatts' squad surprised many in his first season when it secured an at-large bid. But in year two, there was the disappointment of being one of the first teams left out of the field and be- ing relegated to the NIT. Last year's team was back on the bubble. Entering what was supposed to be an ACC Tournament quarterfinal showdown with T THE IDEAL ROSTER In His Fourth Season, Pack Head Coach Kevin Keatts Has Molded The Team To Fit His Vision Of Versatility Fifth-year senior Devon Daniels, a 6-5 wing who averaged 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game last season, epitomizes one of the overarching themes for this year's Wolfpack — versatility. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN Returning Leaders Points Per Game: Fifth-year senior forward DJ Funderburk (12.8) Total Points: Fifth-year senior guard Devon Daniels (406) Rebounds: Funderburk (184, 6.1 per game) Assists: Daniels (71, 2.2 per game) Blocks: Redshirt sophomore center Manny Bates (83, 2.9 per game) Steals: Daniels (53, 1.7 per game) Three-Pointers Made: Senior guard Braxton Beverly (50, 1.6 per game) FG Percentage: Bates (65.7, 65 of 99) FT Percentage: Junior forward Jericole Hellems (77.9, 53 of 68) Minutes: Daniels (993, 31.0 per game)

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