Emerging from the slumber of a slow start, NC State forward BeeJay Anya awakened during the Wolfpack’s 67-55 overtime win over Tennessee State on December 10. One simple number offers an example of how different things were with Anya in the lineup: his 38 minutes surpassed the 33 minutes he’d been on the court for the four previous games combined.
Anya managed to finish with a double-double on 12 points and 14 rebounds, though it was his defense that caught the attention of players, coaches and the sellout crowd of 5,500. That came in the form of seven blocked shots, which put the senior forward just three swats away from what would have been a unique triple-double.
The Pack entered the non-conference contest with a 6-2 mark, compared to Tennessee State’s 7-1 record. However, given their respective levels of competition, the Wolfpack were expected to come away with the victory, especially given the circumstances. This matchup was the first in two years at Reynolds Coliseum, which has undergone a $35 million renovation.
Anya’s career at the school has seen plenty of ups and downs. Two seasons ago, he sent State to the Sweet 16 with a dramatic last-second hook shot for the winning basket against the LSU Tigers. As a junior, the Maryland native became a non-entity for much of the season, managing two points or fewer in 11 Wolfpack games.
One of the lingering issues for the 6-11 Anya throughout his collegiate career has been his weight, which has often ballooned beyond 300 pounds. That lack of discipline has been costly for him and the school. Not much was expected of him this season due to the issue surfacing again during preseason practices when he showed up weighing 340 pounds.
During the season’s first five games, Gottfried had Anya in the lineup for an average of nearly 18 minutes per game. However, the forward was typically inconsistent and only contributed a total of 23 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocked shots during a 4-1 start.
That led to Anya nearly being benched, with the senior managing to make it on the court for a mere 17 minutes over the next three games. Not surprisingly, that resulted in microscopic statistics like one point and four rebounds.
In the Tennessee State win, Gottfried indicated that Anya’s play affected the game in a variety of ways. Still, despite the performance, his legacy of inconsistency might send him back to the bench as the season progresses.
That’s because of the arrival of Omer Yurtseven, who’s now eligible to play after sitting out the first nine games because of an NCAA-mandated suspension. At seven feet tall, the Turkish freshman possesses enough talent that he may not be around in Raleigh too long. Scouts from many NBA teams have already shown up to see him play, as well as LA assistant Mike Woodson, who made time in his busy Clippers schedule.
That means that Gottfried will likely give him plenty of time on the court, especially when ACC play gets going. In turn, that's likely to relegate Anya to serving in a reserve capacity.