NC State beat Chowan 111-62 on Monday night in the Wolfpack’s only exhibition game, but who cares about the margin, tell me about the team! I’ll do my best.
First off, it’s worth noting that Kevin Keatts went with a substitution-heavy approach from the jump, so I’m not going to bother reaching for conclusions regarding any given five-man group. The nature of this game was such that there was never much cohesion—Keatts didn’t actually need to play his best five for any extensive amount of time.
The advantage of that is we got to see the entire bench play significant minutes. Here’s some observations on the new guys:
Jericole Hellems — I already love this kid. If he’s a multi-year player here, he’s going to be a fan favorite. He’s not going to kill you with athleticism, but he’s the right-place, right-time sort, and he’s smart.
Eric Lockett — He’s going to be a disruptive presence for the defense every night as a rangy wing player who is big enough to handle whatever opponents decide to put in a wing spot. At the offensive end, he’s unrefined, but State won’t need a lot of scoring from him. State just needs him to be a solid two-way player.
Wyatt Walker — He spent most of the game in deference to everybody else. He managed five assists in the second half alone—there’s probably not a smarter player on this team, just in terms of basketball IQ, than this guy.
Ian Steere — Kid’s a hard-worker, which partly makes up for his obvious deficiencies elsewhere. He made a few impressive hustle plays tonight, and he won’t be able to make them against power-conference opponents, but it’s one step at a time with freshmen. He’ll be able to build on this one.
Blake Harris — He’s quick as hell, but by point guard standards, he’s a sub-par decision maker. And his jump shot is ugly. I don’t know if he can prove a credible three-point threat. We badly need him to be a credible three-point threat.
DJ Funderburk — Funderburk will be an essential player because of his athleticism, but he’s rail-thin, and the lack of bonafide bigs is going the be the enduring problem this year. Funderburk is going to embarrass people because he can jump into eternity, but he’s gonna get pushed around, too.
CJ Bryce — It might take a few minutes for Bryce to rediscover his shooting touch, but he is a career 36.5% three-point shooter, so I wouldn’t worry too much about his oh-fer tonight.
Devon Daniels — He’ll lead the team in scoring this year. Can he make his jump shot more consistent? We’ll see. But he’s definitely carrying the lunchpail for this group.