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NC State aims for 2-0 start against Campbell on Friday night

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NCAA Basketball: Campbell at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State hosts a Campbell team on Friday night that will look a lot different than it did a year ago, mainly because the Camels were one of the most experienced teams in the country and so lost plenty to graduation: their short rotation was made up of four seniors and two juniors.

Four of those six are gone (not all the seniors, wise guy!), including wing Cedric Henderson, who you may recall from that time this spring when Kevin Keatts was recruiting him out of the portal. (He ended up at Arizona.)

The Camels patched up their roster with four transfers in, and they’ll probably need all of those guys to provide good minutes.

Snapshotting the Camels

Campbell in '22 Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
Campbell in '22 Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
Offense 100.7 (217) 51.3 (114) 16..4 (49) 22.2 (333) 52.4 (73) 33.0 (220)
Defense 104.2 (210) 50.6 (202) 18.3 (175) 26.1 (88) 27.6 (101) 33.2 (154)

The two returning rotation players: Ricky Clemons (6’2, 210) and Jesus Carralero (6’8, 215). Clemons, whose name I’m now two-for-two on initially typing as ‘Clemson,’ is a local feel-good story: he walked on at Campbell coming out of Rolesville, earned a scholarship by his sophomore year, and this summer he earned preseason all-conference honors.

He’s an interesting player, too. He has played a ton of minutes of the last two years in a light usage role at the offensive end, but has been highly effective when he does shoot: he made almost 65% of his twos last season and is a career 63% shooter inside the arc. He does an impressive job of drawing contact, to put it mildly. In 2021, he finished the year with 21 more free throw attempts (93) than field goal attempts (72). Won’t see that much! Clemons isn’t much of a three-point shooter, but who needs that when you were apparently a bowling ball in a former life.

I don’t think there’s any question that Campbell needs him to take a larger slice of the offense—he took only 13% of the team’s shots while on the floor last year—and how much more he can handle while remaining efficient is what they’ve got to feel out.

Carralero, meanwhile, stepped into a primary role last year for the first time, with mixed results. He really upped his game at the defensive end, proving disruptive in terms of both blocks and steals, and rebounded well on the defensive glass. He also has been an excellent passer throughout his career and finished 43rd nationally in assist rate last season.

The assists have come with a lot of turnovers, however, and he could probably stand to cut down on three-point attempts (25% career on threes). He’s a competent scorer inside the arc, though.

The Camels fielded one of the nation’s most undersized squads last year, and the dynamic hasn’t changed dramatically in that respect: three of the four transfers they brought in are guards; senior forward Joshua Lesane (6’7, 240) is the only dude bringing any beef to the paint.

They’ll have some things to figure out defensively, and in the bigger picture, it will be interesting to see if they can continue to rebound beyond their weight class at the defensive end.

KenPom likes NC State by 14. Expect more of a slog this time out, as Campbell has been one of the slowest teams in the country over the last few years.