The Wolfpacker

Nov.-Dec. 2020

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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26 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT CARTER J Funderburk can re- member a conversation with then-Ohio State assistant coach Chris Jent when he first ar- rived on the Columbus campus. Jent looked Funderburk "dead in my face," as Funderburk recalled it, and told the rookie he was going to be a four-year player in college. Funderburk, a consensus four-star prospect and considered by some a borderline top-50 player nationally in his class, didn't believe it. "You are a freshman in college, you thinking like, 'Ah, this guy is crazy. I don't know what he's talking about. I'm one and done. If not, two maybe,'" Funderburk re- membered. "And he was completely right. Without me knowing, he knew my future." Funderburk is actually entering his fifth year of playing some form of college bas- ketball. After redshirting a season at Ohio State, he spent a year at Northwest Florida State College in Tallahassee, Fla. The player who previously was dreaming he would be preparing for the NBA at that point was trying not to fall completely off the radar of college coaches. Funderburk was mindful not to take the same approach in the junior college ranks that he did at Ohio State. "If you just go in there underestimating it, you're not going to get the outcome that you want," Funderburk said. Instead, Funderburk used the mindset that he was, in simplest terms, better than every- body else. Proving that was his mission, and it caught the attention of former NC State as- sistant coach A.W. Hamilton, who was in his first and only year on the Wolfpack bench. Hamilton had ironically been Funder- burk's coach at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., before he arrived at Ohio State. That was not the only connection for Funderburk to the Pack. Fellow Cleveland native Markell Johnson was NC State's star point guard, and he had already kept an eye on head coach Kevin Keatts' program because of that. In the recruiting process, Funderburk was won over by the genuine nature of Keatts and his coaching staff. "It wasn't really any fake love going on, because coming from another school I knew what to look for now," Funderburk explained. "I knew what the red flags would be, and what I didn't like in the school. It was more particular, as opposed to coming out of high school, where they try to wow you with all the bells and whistles. D Funderburk led the team in ACC play with 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last year. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN SEASONED VETERAN Fifth-Year Senior DJ Funderburk Prepares For His Final College Basketball Season 2020-2021 MEN'S BASKETBALL PREVIEW

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