#52 North Carolina State Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

North Carolina State Wolfpack
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #52
Conference Rank: #12 ACC
Following an up and down November and December, North Carolina State began January and ACC play with five straight losses. Coach Mark Gottfried and company could not recover from that and they went on to win just five games in conference play. That was not a typical season for Coach Gottfried at NC State and now he has the tools to get this team fighting for an NCAA Tournament spot.  Abdul-Malik Abu, who flirted with the NBA Draft, returns after averaging 12.9 points and a team high 8.8 rebounds last season. He may be the upperclassman who can lead this team, but he will have plenty of competition for the team’s top scorer.
2015-16 Record: 16-17, 5-13
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Mark Gottfried
Coach Record: 108-69 at NC State, 387-223 overall
Who’s Out:
The biggest loss is point guard Anthony Barber, who left early for the NBA. He led the team with 23.5 points and 4.5 assists per game last year and was often the only player who could really get anything going for the Wolfpack. Also gone are Caleb Martin and Cody Martin, who are transferring to Nevada. Caleb was one of the team’s best shooters and averaged 11.5 points per game, while Cody was more of an interior force. Between them they started 34 games, but their playing time would have likely diminished this year due to players returning from injuries and a very talented group of newcomers.
Who’s In:
North Carolina State has a couple freshmen who are big time players and ready to start from day one. Dennis Smith will take over for Barber at the point and most expect him to spend just one year at the collegiate level before heading to the NBA. He is an outstanding talent and if his play over the summer is any indication, he will live up to his hype. The other freshman with very high expectations is 7-0 center Omer Yurtseven. He has a ton of international experience and is more than ready, both physically and mentally, to battle in the ACC. The Wolfpack have lacked a dominating traditional post player in recent years, but that is no longer the case. The rest of the class is overshadowed, but there are still some very talented players. Markell Johnson is another point guard who is slated to take over for Smith once he moves on. But in the meantime, he should be a very good backup and it is possible both could be on the floor at the same time since Smith can score as well as distribute. The backcourt also adds walk-on Spencer Newman and Charlotte transfer Torin Dorn. Dorn is a big, tough 6-5 guard who led the 49ers with 12.0 points per game as a freshman two years ago. Ted Kapita would be the star newcomer on many teams, but for now will have to provide some quality frontcourt depth along with athletic freshman forward Darius Hicks. Tucker Thompson, a transfer from Western Carolina, adds even more options for Coach Gottfried.
Who to Watch:
NC State could field a pretty good team with their newcomers, but there is a lot returning too. Maverick Rowan had a very good freshman campaign, averaging 12.9 points per game and knocking down a team high 81 three-pointers. He was often asked to do too much for this team, but the 6-7 wing spent a lot of time on the floor and that experience will help. The return of Terry Henderson, a West Virginia transfer who made it just seven minutes into his NC State debut before an ankle injury ended his season, will help take the pressure off of Rowan. Henderson is a shooter who can also use his 6-5 frame to attack the basket. With that pressure off of Rowan, he may not average as many points, but he should be more efficient. The frontcourt is already loaded with Abu and Yurtseven, but BeeJay Anya and Lennard Freeman are a couple experienced and talented forwards as well. Anya, who thought about the NBA Draft too, averaged 4.7 points and 5.3 rebounds during his junior campaign. It was no surprise that he returned to Raleigh for his senior season and he should provide much of the frontcourt depth. Like Anya, Freeman is a good rebounder, but he is not a shot blocker like Anya.
Final Projection:
This team has depth and talent across the board. In most positions North Carolina State is at least two deep. It may take some time for Smith, Yurtseven and the rest of the freshmen to come around, but they are extremely talented and this team has plenty of experience to help the youngsters through their growing pains. However, by then, the ACC will be in full swing and no matter how much talent there is, winning consistently in the ACC will be extremely difficult. The Wolfpack will need to get off to a fast start if they want to reach the NCAA Tournament because there will certainly be some rough patches once again in conference play.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Dennis Smith, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Terry Henderson, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Maverick Rowan, Sophomore, Forward, 12.9 points per game
Abdul-Malik Abu, Junior, Forward, 12.9 points per game
Omer Yurtseven, Freshman, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.2 (121st in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 74.4 (242, 14)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.3 (204, 13)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.8 (191, 10)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (245, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.8 (156, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.9 (167, 9)
Rebound Margin: 4.0 (56, 5)
Assists Per Game: 11.6 (285, 15)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.1 (39, 7)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#3 Dennis Smith
#21 Omer Yurtseven
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#14 Dennis Smith