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NC State No. 16 in ESPN’s way-too-early top 25

Sixteen, huh.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Bridgeport Regional-Notre Dame vs NC State David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

This season marks the end of a significant era for NC State women’s basketball: Elissa Cunane, Kai Crutchfield, Raina Perez, and Kayla Jones are moving on. That is not an easy core to replace, but at the same time, there is an exciting group of really good players right behind them.

It remains to be seen just how far NC State’s potential will extend in 2023, but I am absolutely certain the team will be in good hands with Diamond Johnson, Jakia Brown-Turner, and Jada Boyd as the new core. ESPN’s Charlie Creme pegged State at No. 16 in his early top 25. Is that an insult? Definitely. But you can’t expect everyone to understand just how good Jada Boyd is.

So what is this Wolfpack team looking at next season? Let’s have a quick guess at the depth chart:

1: Diamond Johnson / Aziaha James
2: Aziaha James / Jessica Timmons
3: Jakia Brown-Turner / Madison Hayes
4: Jada Boyd / Madison Hayes
5: Camille Hobby / Boyd / Sophie Hart

State is going to be good, just in a different way: this will be one of the quickest backcourts in the country, with a whole lot of versatility elsewhere. Not an imposing lineup, but one that will definitely benefit from having Boyd finally playing a starter’s minutes.

Figure that NC State is going to bring in a transfer or two to strengthen its position, but the key to next season will boil down to Diamond, JBT, and Jada. And now that they have the opportunity to take over and run this thing, well, I’m excited to see that team. If it doesn’t end up being one of the 10 best teams in the country, I’ll be surprised.