Guards, can never have too many of them. At least that what the philosophy seems to be under Kevin Keatts. It has been well documented his penchant for a 4 out-1 in system during his time at UNCW, and it is believed that Keatts’ will look to bring that style of play here one day. Year 1 won’t be it. With the talents of Abu and Yurtseven along with the experienced toughness of Lennard Freeman, a more traditional line-up is likely what we’ll see in 2017-2018. That doesn’t mean Keatts isn’t preparing for the future and that’s where the addition of Braxton Beverly comes in. He has been described as a defensive-minded, heady PG who can shoot...those skills alone make it worthwhile but there are other, less tangible areas where Beverly will help NC State.
Currently we have the maximum of 13 players on scholarship. In years past, especially under coaches in their first season here we have struggled to even reach 10. College basketball is a much more difficult sport to keep 13 scholarship-worthy players happy to be on your roster so this is a rarity for us. 13 guarantees that practices will be tough, scrimmages will be evenly matched and strategies from scouting can easily be implemented. Now when you’re looking at how to beat the Syracuse zone, you have the length and athleticism to simulate it properly. Now a guard or wing wont be resigned to take a defensive assignment off in practice, because there are 1, maybe 2, guys that are capable of taking their spot. From his description, would’ve never figured Keatts’ practices would ever be called “easy” but with Beverly, the competition just took a step up.
This is likely the most obvious advantage there is. 11 players are available for use this year and that allows for a few things. The ACC is a conference where style of play various from UVAs narcoleptic offense to U*NC’s breakneck pace, therefore it is important to be able to matchup against them defensively while looking to dictate the game offensively. Beverly gives us the ability to play “small ball” with teams that may look to run, without sacrificing depth. Another note is that Keatts’ style is going to require some serious conditioning and it may be too much to expect our players to be at the optimum level he’ll require yet. Beverly gives you one more guard who can come in if/when someone needs a breather so that Keatts can control tempo. Lastly, note that Beverly can be a leader in that he is an older player who has an unquestioned familiarity with Asst. Coach AW Hamilton, who is himself a Keatts protege. Similarly to CJ Bryce (and even Ryan Finley/Drinkwitz in football) that experience is invaluable.
Elephant in the room folks...just look, its right at the corner of your eye. We have had OUTSTANDING injury luck over the past few years. You can point to Terry Henderson and Lennard Freeman but over the last 6 years our “star” players have avoided long term injury throughout the Gottfried era. Who knows if this will last. 11 scholarship players helps to assuage too much fear over this possibility. While the loss of Abu, Yurt, Freeman or Hicks might bring on some nerves, we currently have 7 guys to take care of the other spots. In Markell, Batts, and Beverly we have 3 different ball-handlers, where if we lost one to injury we’d still have depth there. That ugly term, transfer, is also a consideration after the season ends. Our hope is that everyone will want to stay and play for Coach Keatts but the odds are in this era of college basketball, that may not be the case. We have enough players here now to withstand anything but a mass exodus.
We stand to lose 4 of our 13 players to graduation. As assumed, we will likely lose 1 more if Yurtseven improves just enough to get a spot in the draft. Sans Hicks, that is decimation of our frontcourt, but fortunately our backcourt would remain set for that season. Barring any significant transfer, not only would we have high major talent at our guard and wing positions, but experienced (playing time, age etc) talent too. Look at next year’s backcourt:
RS Sr Dorn
RS Jr Bryce
RS Soph Daniels
Adding in Hicks as a Junior, that is a team that has performed for a lot of minutes and had an entire year playing and/or practicing together. Now the staff can almost exclusively concentrate on getting 3-4 frontcourt players to compliment this roster while still giving the promise of immediate playing time.
I will be honest when Beverly first came on the radar I was skeptical. Not because I didn’t think there was talent or value there, but because I never thought we could (or maybe even should) spend our 13th scholarship on another PG. It wasn’t until I looked into his skill set as well as the long term planning the staff is doing that I recognized why this is a huge get for where the program is headed. Whether Beverly starts off as a good scout player, in the rotation off the bench or eventually starting with the A team, the staff clearly has a blueprint as to how they want to accomplish their goals. And hey I love it when a plan comes together.