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The NC State basketball preview, Part I: Wolfpack wings and small forwards

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Hoops? Hoops.

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We are less than two weeks from the start of basketball season, so maybe it’s time to start talking about it. (Content warning: NC State basketball.) I know, I’m scared too.

I’ll kick things off with the somewhat-bigs, which is a group that includes an important veteran leader and a couple of likely secondary contributors who have upside.

Jericole Hellems

Jericole Hellems had his share of problems early in his career and never will completely shake the frustrating moments here and there, but his trajectory has been impressive, and he is coming off his best season in the red and white. Hellems shouldered an above-average workload in 2021 and set career-bests in two- and three-point shooting. He’s always been a reliable free throw shooter and can fit into the three or four spots in the lineup depending on the situation

The ideal next step for Hellems would be improving again on his two-point shooting while consolidating that perimeter accuracy and lowering his turnover rate. Turnovers are part of the deal with Hellems, I think we all understand that at this point, and State doesn’t need him to suddenly transform into a walking Fort Knox. (Although that would be very impressive for a variety of reasons.)

If he just shows solid improvement in that department, his efficiency could really take off. He’s already a big key to this team and he’ll log a lot of minutes—if he can level up his efficiency, that will mean a lot to the Pack’s prospects.

Greg Gantt

Greg Gantt is one of two transfers Kevin Keatts brought in during the offseason to bolster his rotation and it remains to be seen where exactly he’ll carve out a niche. The good news is he’ll have time to do it, as State won’t be asking him to come in and carry the offense.

He definitely didn’t do that at Providence, where he was a low-usage contributor in two seasons. That won’t change in Raleigh, and it shouldn’t until he shows he can take better care of the ball and develop a decent jumper. Those turnover rates are particularly worrying, but he showed promise scoring the ball inside the arc and he hasn’t been a liability at the stripe.

Can he build on that decent assist rate from a year ago while cutting down on mistakes? Can he provide State more on the glass than he did Providence? Those are a couple of things worth keeping an eye on.

Dereon Seabron

In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics, and we appreciate what Dereon Seabron can bring to a basketball court. He showed some real flashes down the stretch last season: the 14-point, nine-rebound, four-steal performance against Wake; the 17-point, 13-rebound, three-block effort against Notre Dame.

His playing time increased substantially during the late-season rally that began in the middle of February as he showed that he could contribute effectively in a variety of different ways. He could still be wildly inconsistent, but that’s a freshman for you. Those minutes and that experience should prove valuable.

Seabron’s ability to finish inside the arc was encouraging and he rebounded above his weight class at both ends of the floor. He obviously needs to refine a few aspects of his game, but that’s a solid foundation to work with. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with a bit more consistency in year two.