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BTP Mailbag: Jack Chambers, starting fives, and the Carolina Hurricanes

$47 to the first person who gets the reference in the photo

ALT 98.7 Summer Camp Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Thanks to everybody who submitted questions this week. If your question was chosen, congratulations! You have won one billion dollars. To collect your prize, you must find the money, which has been buried somewhere in the southern hemisphere. Good luck!

The two bigs recruited by Keatts in the portal don’t seem to fit the mold of the rim protector he’s desired in the past. Do you think this signifies a shift in his offensive and defensive scheming or is it more a case of getting the best available big body(s) available and willing to commit? - CanisRufus

Alec Lower: I think it can be both. I think when you’re basically trying to build a team in the transfer portal, and you know it’s probably a do-or-die year, you can’t afford to be too picky. But I think Burns will be a big time get, and Keatts will build around the pieces he has so you’ll see a little bit different offensive design, similar to what happened in 2020 when State threw the ball inside a lot more to Bates and Funderburk. You’ll see more of a post game than last year, which of course was totally nonexistent.

Essad Malik: It’s really hard to say. We won’t know how this lineup fits together for a while into the season. Big man Dusan Mahorcic from Utah will either start at center or it falls back to Ebe Dowuona. It’s hard to say on DJ Burns. He’s honestly the first true PF Kevin Keatts has brought in. Burns’ sizee will remind people of BJ Anya, hopefully he can protect the rim like he did but with a stronger offensive game. Burns and Ebe need to be able to hit those pick and rolls and be viable options on the roll portion of that exchange. I’m not convinced Keatts will play both Mahorcic and Burns at the same time, since he prefers to only have one big man on the floor at a time, even if it would be to his benefit given the size of competing PF/C’s in the ACC. It seemed like pulling teeth to convince him to play Manny and DJ at the same time two years ago. At this point, without any evidence to prove otherwise, I don’t expect any difference in the team’s play style. Jarkell Joiner is going to slot in as the ball-dominant guard Keatts has always preferred. He’ll be the key to see whether the bigs will get touches.

With the bulk of Kevin Keatts’ portal recruiting wrapped up, what do you see as the potential lineup for next season, and would you expect Keatts to actually run a deeper bench this year? - Wilmpacker

Alec Lower: Joiner-Morsell-Transfer-Clark-Burns would be my guess. I think the expectation is that Seabron is gone, and despite some positive reports early on, it doesn’t really seem like T is coming back either given how strongly he performed at the combine. Assuming those things happen, which neither are guaranteed yet, State will very much still be on the market for an off-ball guard/wing that they can plug into the starting lineup (they already are). You can expect Joiner to be the point guard, Morsell as a second guard, and even though he’s not the type of big that Keatts has traditionally sought after, Burns is good and should start. State is in search of a scoring wing already and whoever that is probably will be expected to start. I would guess Jack Clark at the 4, assuming State still keeps the single big lineup that they’ve traditionally played.

I think Keatts wants to run as deep of a bench as he can. There have been so many injuries and things over the years, State was down to like 12 total legs at one point last year, so yeah I definitely think if everyone is healthy, you’ll see a deeper bench, especially with Burns being a guy who probably can’t play 35 minutes a game.

Essad Malik: Yes, at this point it would be better to assume Terq Smith is gone, along with Seabron. The deadline for returning to the NCAA is June 1, so we’ll know pretty soon. This should give Kevin Keatts enough time to find another transfer if needed. He will likely get some inside info as it seems he’s gotten in the past. In that case, we’d likely see them go over the scholarship limit temporarily.

As for potential lineup, we’re likely to see a lot of the new transfers. Ole Miss transfer Jarkell Joiner will probably be the starting PG. Jack Clark seems like a good option off the bench rather than a starter. Two question marks are Ernest Ross and Greg Gantt returning from injury. Ross looked good in flashes, but he’ll need to be very effective inside and out to help the team stay out of the offensive funks they got in last year. Ross needs a jumpshot and Casey Morsell needs help on defense, as often times he was busting his tail out there alone. Gantt is the former 4 star transfer from Providence. Yes, he’s still on the team. If either Ross or Gantt can deliver at that spot, and Keatts agrees to play Burns and Ebe at the same time, then this might turn out to be one of the best-sized lineups Keatts has had to throw at ACC opposition. Total guess at lineup at this point in May: Joiner (PG), Morsell (SG), Ross, Gantt (Wings), Dowuona (C). This will be in spite of the fact that replacing Gantt for Burns will be in Keatts’ best interest. Key reserves will be Mahorcic, Clark and Breon Pass.

How cathartic will it be to host the 2022 Stanley Cup Champions at the Carter just months after the Wolfpack brings home the CFP Championship? - Howling_Sow

Alec Lower: I think it’ll be pretty sweet.

Essad Malik: It’ll be a moment that shows the unique connection of sharing facilities with a pro hockey team. Can you imagine the CFP champion NC State team sounding the storm warning siren inside Carter Finley during the outdoor game? My heart wouldn’t be able to take it. We should probably stop imagining it to avoid the jinx.

What does the signing of transfer QB Jack Chambers mean? Is Ben Finley not a reliable backup or is this guy third string? - brewolfpack

Alec Lower: Ben Finley has basically never played and all his spring game experience was with the 2s versus the 1s, which is not fair. So it’s hard to answer this question from the outside, but I do think State saw this as an opportunity to solidify the QB room a little more. Chambers didn’t have great numbers at a lower level of football, but he has a lot of starting experience, which means State has a backup with actual football experience and they got him without having to spend a scholarship. That’s a win. Whether or not he ends up second-string, I have a hunch he does but it’s not based on anything.

Essad Malik: As of right now, Chambers is only a walk-on, not a full scholarship player. This could of course change later as scholarships free up. I wouldn’t think too much of it. He will likely be used in scout team efforts to prepare the team for mobile QB’s. The real challenge to Ben Finley will be highly touted recruit MJ Morris. He fits the Tim Beck mold of QB. There’s wrinkles to the Beck playbook for mobile QB’s that can open up more with Morris than Finley. I’d expect next spring/summer to be filled with chatter of a QB competition. For this upcoming season, though, Finley’s place as the backup should be firmly set.

It seems everyone is assuming Seabron is going pro. When would you guess he’ll free up that scholarship so KK can go back to chasing transfer talent? - Wolphpack

Alec Lower: In the next two weeks before the deadline, but if you count Smith and Seabron’s scholarships, State is out of scholarships, and it is still active in the transfer portal. So it seems like they’re operating as if it’s already a done deal.

Essad Malik: As I said above, I think Keatts will know before we do, and we’ll all know in less than 10 days. I assume Keatts is already ‘crootin’ as we speak, just in case. Same goes for Terq’s spot.

Are the Canes a positive for NC State? - @Qdogg15

Alec Lower: I think it’s definitely a positive, but I doubt it has any materiality to it. It highlights Raleigh a little bit and State guys get on the siren a fair amount (btw, I don’t think the Canes have lost a playoff game in the Rod Brind’Amour era when a State guy is on the siren.), so I suppose it adds a little exposure.

Essad Malik: It’s an interesting question. For a long time, I wasn’t convinced of it. I still kinda wish the basketball team had never left Reynolds. That’s a topic for another day, but there have been definite financial benefits to sharing facilities with a pro team. But as the Canes have been a largely successful franchise, it should only be viewed as a positive. The Hurricanes being successful ties into the overall level of success of the NC State athletics department right now. If the football team is able to jump the hurdle this year in the ACC, then Raleigh as a whole is viewed as a winning town. Dave Doeren/Wes Moore getting invited to sound the siren at Canes games is great publicity. Don’t forget the Canes have one of the best home ice crowds in the whole NHL. This shows us that even though it’d be nice to still be in Reynolds, PNC is capable of being a super loud environment given the right (basketball) team. It still makes me laugh that a lot of old school hockey stooges still bristle at North Carolina being a place for a good hockey environment, but the Canes and their fans have had to earn the hockey world’s respect every step of the way. Sounds a lot like what Dave Doeren’s trying to build at NC State, hmmmm?