Maverick Rowan and Caleb Martin have been positive early season signs for NC State. Though 3-2 isn't the ideal record we envisioned through five games, NC State should feel better because of the play regarding these two youngsters and the team's recent LSU win. Rowan's percentages aren't deadly, 40.7% from the field and 30.6% on threes, but he's averaging 14 points per game and showcasing confidence. Martin, on the other hand, is posting 16.6 points per game with a 43.9% clip from deep.
It's comically early in the year, meaning naturally these numbers can jump or dip. Trends are important, though, and it appears Rowan has a swagger beyond his freshmen status. We need a deep threat with Ralston Turner gone and Terry Henderson injured. Not only can Rowan pop threes, he's also shown fans a developed mid-range jumper. Martin's trends are even more positive. The improvement he's made between freshmen and sophomore seasons seems to be drastic. He's always been athletic, now it appears he's also a formidable shooter.
When Henderson went down, thoughts of who would step up were immediate concerns. Martin likely would've had his run anyway, but few could've pictured Rowan logging major minutes with a healthy Henderson in the fold. The takeaway here is that Rowan's early year playing time could be a confidence builder that aides his career in a Wolfpack uniform. Ideally, Henderson returns down the road ready to be a threat, and Rowan remains there when needed. He's proven worthy of a rotation spot, and having that clarity from a freshmen through five games is excellent.
The biggest point of curiosity will be how Rowan and Martin perform throughout the season. Anthony Barber is carrying massive weight on his back, and Abdul-Malik Abu is the only big man who has been productive on offense. Barber in particular will need perimeter assistance if NC State is going to have a successful season. The likely scenario is NC State's perimeter attack will have to pick up where the big men lack all season.
College basketball has proven that one player can forward a team come tourney time, and none of us should doubt Cat being that guy. But it's only November. No one wants to see Cat ran into the ground by January because his burden is too gigantic. Rowan and Martin are critical players in this regard. The pair have been enjoyable to watch so far, and their level of play will help determine the fate of NC State's season.