The Wolfpacker

January 2022

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 7 of 51

8 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT CARTER I n one of NC State basketball coach Kevin Keatts' most significant recruit- ing victories since he was hired by the Wolfpack, On3 Consensus five-star junior point guard Robert Dillingham chose Keatts' program over finalists Kansas, Kentucky, LSU and Memphis. Dillingham made his announcement on Instagram Dec. 1. Dillingham made an official visit to NC State Oct. 29, and he also took similar trips to Kentucky (Oct. 24), LSU (Oct. 15) and Memphis (Sept. 17). The 6-foot-1, 160-pound native of Charlotte is the No. 11 prospect in the country's 2023 class according to the On3 Consensus, the only rating system to put equal weight into all the industry rank- ings. He comes in at No. 3 among point guards. The On3 rankings have Dillingham as the No. 4 point guard and No. 18 overall player in the country among juniors. As a sophomore at Combine Academy in Charlotte, Dillingham averaged 21.2 points, 4.9 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. He transferred this fall to the newly established Donda Academy in Simi Valley, Calif. Dillingham is the first commitment for NC State basketball in the 2023 class. He is the second-highest-rated player to announce his pledge behind Duke-bound guard Caleb Foster, who checks in at No. 8 in the On3 Consensus class of 2023 rankings. In November, the Wolfpack announced that it had inked a two-player recruiting class for 2022: center Shawn Phillips Jr. from Dream City Christian in Glendale, Ariz., and guard Liron (LJ) Thomas from Bull City Prep in Durham, N.C., during the fall signing period. The 6-11, 250-pound Phillips is a native of Dayton, Ohio, who chose the Wolfpack over Ole Miss and West Virginia. Rivals. com ranks him No. 98 among seniors na- tionally. Phillips played at Ypsi Prep in Ypsi- lanti, Mich., as a junior, averaging 8.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He transferred to Dream City Christian for his senior year. Previously, Phillips played at Belmont High in Dayton and averaged 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks per game during his sophomore year. "Shawn is a physical presence on the floor," Keatts said. "He has great size, but also is light on his feet. He is a mobile post player who can alter and block shots, and be a capable rebounder for us. "I think he can immediately come in and be a difference-maker for us in rebound- ing, shot blocking and scoring in the low post. He was on our radar for a few years now, and every year you could see that he had gotten better and added another layer to his game." Thomas, like Phillips, is rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and has been ranked as high as No. 138 in the country for his class by 247Sports. A native of Stone Mountain, Ga., Thomas averaged 18.5 points, 4.2 as- sists and 3.5 rebounds per game during the 2020-21 season. As a sophomore at Camp Jewell House Academy in Conyers, Ga., Thomas helped his team go 28-4 by averaging 18.0 points and 3.2 assists per game, and shooting 42.0 percent on his three-point attempts. Prior to committing to NC State, the 6-2, 190-pounder was also considering offers from Georgia, Houston, Memphis and Ole Miss, and contemplated playing professionally with the Overtime Elite program. "LJ is a physical and tenacious guard," Keatts stated. "He plays with a lot of grit. He's great at controlling the pace of a game, and he's very comfortable playing in a ball screen offense. "I love the way he plays. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He's going to come in and not back down from any player or any team. He's my type of player, and I can't wait to get him into our program. He'll make us better the second he steps onto campus." ■ T R A C K I N G THE PACK NC State Basketball Lands Touted Five-Star Junior Guard Charlotte native Robert Dillingham announced his commitment to NC State on Dec. 1, choosing the Wolfpack over Kansas, Kentucky, LSU and Memphis. PHOTO COURTESY ROBERT DILLINGHAM VIA INSTAGRAM (ROBWITDASHIFTS)

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