The Wolfpacker

November-December 2023

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 27 of 51

28 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY NOAH FLEISCHMAN hen NC State coach Kev i n Kea t ts wa s asked at a preseason p re s s c o n f e re n c e about who his team's top on-ball defender would be, the sev- enth-year coach re- sponded with a sarcastic joke. "Last year, I said Casey Morsell would be on the all-defensive team, and Casey didn't listen to me enough," Keatts said with a smirk. "He's a really good de- fensive player. I'd say Jayden [Taylor] or Casey could play that role." Morsell, a former Virginia transfer, prides himself on his defense. He wants to do anything to help the team win games. It's a common theme when he speaks, and his defense is a part of those winning intangibles. He was fourth on the team with 22 blocks and 38 steals a year ago, but Mor- sell wants to take a bigger step in his de- fensive game this season. He's chasing after the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year award. "I would love to get more credibility on a national scale for my defense," the 6-foot-3 Morsell said. "I'd love to be in the Defensive Player of the Year mix. Defense is something that I value. It's always been something that I know will lead to good results if you guard at a high level." The Fort Washington, Md., native said he values defense since it can lead to pos- itive play on the court for the entire team — usually in the form of wins. "There's no better feeling than taking the other team's leading scorer out of the game and putting your team in a position to be successful," Morsell said. Morsell has his sights set on one of the league's top awards, and if the leap he made from his first season in Raleigh to last season was any indication, another step in his game could be imminent. Improved Player In 2021-22, Morsell's first season af- ter arriving at NC State from Virginia, things did not go as planned. The Wolf- pack struggled and finished with an 11- 21 mark, the fewest wins under Keatts. Morsell played in 30 games and made 20 starts, continually finding ways to improve. He stuck with the NC State program, and his determination served the team well last season. His production ticked up in his fourth season of college basketball. Morsell av- eraged 11.8 points with 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 34.9 minutes per game a year ago — all career-best numbers for the wing. And as Morsell's play improved, so did the team's. NC State finished 23-11 with its first NCAA Tournament ap- pearance since 2018 under Keatts. "Casey Morsell, I haven't said enough about him this summer," Keatts said. "Man, what a great year he had for us. As I talk about Jarkel Joiner and the im- pact that he had coming in, Casey had an impact from the jump that he made. He's played well." After the breakout season in Raleigh, Morsell is eager to build off it. He shot a career-best 46.7 percent from the field a year ago, including 41.1 percent from three-point range, which was seven percentage points better than his previ- ous collegiate shooting best. To keep the upward trend rolling, Morsell said this summer was key in his maturation process. "My development has been uphill my whole college career," he said. "Trying to stack on that each summer [is im- portant], adding more tools to the tool box, and trying to get the best out of everyone else." Everyone else is who Morsell cares about the most, and as the Wolfpack's glue guy, it is a telling definition of his character on and off the court as he grows into his leadership role. GLUE GUY Casey Morsell Prioritizes Leadership And Winning Over Personal Success W

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