The NC State Wolfpack lost a lot of scoring from a season ago, but Kevin Keatts reloaded quickly and is ready to compete in the ACC yet again.
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After a surprisingly pleasant regular season and a disappointing end, the NC State Wolfpack reloaded their roster with a lot of transfer talent but lost two of their three best shooters from last season.
NC State is a team that relies on the long ball more than any team in the conference, if not the country. Kevin Keatts’ squad loved shooting from three last season, and when they got hot, they were close to unbeatable.
But with the losses of Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner, NC State might have to take on a bit of a different identity.
NC State brings in only one freshman who could make somewhat of an immediate impact, but Keatts had fun exploring the portal, landing six capable transfers, including three who could crack the starting lineup.
Headlining those coming in is Kam Woods, a combo guard who should assume the point guard role for NC State. Woods, who played at NC A&T last season, is a phenomenal slasher who is great at creating shots and attacking the rim.
Not all talent fled from last season though. Casey Morsell and DJ Burns are both returning starters who will be leaders for the Wolfpack and hopefully guide a lot of new faces to ACC contention.
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Head coach: Kevin Keatts (9th season, 6th at North Carolina State)
2022-23 record: 23-11 (12-8)
2023 postseason finish: Lost to Creighton, 72-63, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
Notable departures: Terquavion Smith (NBA/76ers), Jarkel Joiner (Graduated), Jack Clark (Transferred to Clemson), Dusan Mahorcic (Transferred to Duqense), Greg Gantt (Transferred to UNC Asheville)
Notable non-conference games: vs. Vanderbilt (Nov. 23), vs. Arizona State or BYU (Nov. 24), at Ole Miss (Nov. 28), vs. Tennessee (Dec. 16), vs. Saint Louis (Dec. 20)
PG: Kam Woods (6-2, 185, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 17.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 38.5 FG% (NC A&T)
SG: DJ Horne (6-1, 175, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 12.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 35.5 3P%, 36.9 FG% (Arizona State)
SF: Casey Morsell (6-3, 200, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 11.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 41.1 3P%
PF: Mohamed Diarra (6-10, 215, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 3.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 0.6 APG, 11.7 MPG (Missouri)
C: DJ Burns (6-9, 275, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 12.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 56.1 FG%
6: Michael O’Connell (6-2, 195, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 5.2 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.5 RPG, 37.8 FG% (Stanford)
7: Jayden Taylor (6-4, 195, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 12.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 SPG (Butler)
8: Dennis Parker Jr. (6-6, 205, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 120 rated recruit
9: MJ Rice (6-5, 220, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 2.2 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.2 APG (Kansas)
10: LJ Thomas (6-3, 180, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 2.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.5 APG, 48.3 FG%
11: Ernest Ross (6-9, 200, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 3.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.3 APG, 50 FG%
NC State Wolfpack MVP: Kam Woods
The NC State Wolfpack are experiencing some significant turnaround this season, with Woods highlighting the incoming transfers. Woods, a transfer from NC A&T, averaged the most points a season ago out of anyone on the roster, and his unique play style allows him to open the floor while playing in Kevin Keatts’ three-point-heavy offense.
Woods plays very downhill and is quick off the dribble to get to the rack. He is shifty in the paint when he needs to be but his preferred take is right into the defender and absorbing contact. His shooting stroke is a work in progress, shooting just 33% from beyond the arc, a 5% improvement from his freshman season.
What makes Woods an interesting player in the NC State system is his slashing style of play going directly against what made the Wolfpack dangerous last season: three-point shooting. However, this contrast is what makes me think Woods will be so successful. NC State’s offense demands defenses to spread the floor, leading to open lanes for Woods to attack the rim and do what he does best.
NC State Wolfpack make-or-break player: Casey Morsell
After transferring out of Virginia, Casey Morsell thrived at NC State. He saw his shooting percentages increase exponentially, and he started every game for the Wolfpack last season. However, Morsell is in more of an interesting situation this season. With Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner gone, Morsell has to assume the bulk of shooting for NC State.
Normally, this would be a perfect situation for someone to step up and make even more shots with added volume. And it very well could be that way for Morsell. However, at Virginia, he was relied on to be the top 3-point shooter, and he struggled greatly.
The make-or-break comes into play because of this question: Did Morsell thrive at NC State because of the situation, or did he really find a more suitable program and develop more as a player? If he can shoot at a high clip like last season, NC State sets up much better in a reloaded ACC.
Key analytic: 3PT Per Game
This basic stat is crucial for the Wolfpack’s success this season. NC State averaged 8.3 3-pointers made last season, but a little under five of those three-pointers came from players no longer in Raleigh. Kevin Keatts loves his spread offense, relying heavily on the three-ball for success. But who is going to step up and make these buckets?
Keep an eye out for NC State’s three-point percentage, but, more importantly, the amount of shots from bonus land they make per game. The clip is not as important; NC State had success shooting at a low clip as long as they made threes. But if they do not maintain a high volume beyond the arc, the offense for the Wolfpack can be worrisome.
North Carolina State Wolfpack 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 11th in ACC
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 32