NC State Wolfpack basketball coach Kevin Keatts updates his roster
North Carolina State Basketball Coach Kevin keatts met the media Tuesday in Charlotte as part of the ACC Tip Off festivities. During the media chat, Keatts went through most of the list. He noted that the junior redshirt center Manny Bates, before senior Jericole Hellems and “probably” second year care Cam Hayes are beginners.
“Nobody knows who [else] is going to start, and that’s a great thing for kids today, ”Keatts said. “Our competition is really fierce in practice.”
That said, Keatts is optimistic about the prospects for the Wolfpack.
“I like our team mix because we have four guys, most of them took advantage of our opportunity [last season]Keatts explained. “At some point when Devon daniels fell, we were 4-8 in the league. We found a way to go 9-8 and win five road games, which had not been done since 1974 with the champion team.
“I like this group of guys who are back because they have some invaluable experience, but I also had the opportunity to add a top 25 class and a few transfers who are all hungry and want to win, so I’m excited about these guys. “
Here’s a look at Keatts’ comments on the players who were interviewed during his breakout session with the media.
Redshirt junior center Manny Bates: “He thinks he can shoot all three. I’ll let him take it. Manny has … showed us he has an offensive game, and we’re going to throw the basketball at him. It gives a dimension that we did not have. DJ Funderburk could score, but outside of the DJ we didn’t have anyone who could score inside. Manny gives us a different dimension.
“What we do defensively, Manny Bates is amazing. I don’t know if I can play like I play without having a guy like that. He cleans up every mistake our guards make – they make bets, they cheat a bit, but they know Manny is there at the back. From an offensive point of view, with today’s games where there aren’t many returning players, he’s so important to us because we can throw the ball to him and now he can end up on both shoulders.
“Manny is fine. All we’re doing with Manny right now is load management. I don’t want to overwork him. He played a lot of minutes last year. More than I ever would have liked him to play. He was excited to play this. Manny is going to be one of those things that is everyday, and it’s more if I want to play him because he wants to train every day.
Second-year forwards Ebenezer Dowuona / Jaylon Gibson: “These two guys have improved a lot. They both play very confidently. One or both of those guys will be playing a lot of minutes for us this year.
Junior forward Greg Gantt: “Greg Gantt is a bit slowed down. He has a sports hernia that we’re very relaxed with, so he really hasn’t had a lot of training time with us. He did it during the summer. We will evaluate it in the coming weeks.
“What he brings to the table when he trained with us this summer, for you guys who have watched him in recruiting, is kind of a dump dog. He’s a jack of all trades. He brings a great presence. He’s a great leader. He brings tenacity to our team. Even though he hasn’t practiced, his voice has been heard and he’s doing a great job with our kids.
Second year guard Cam Hayes: “He was very lucky… Losing three guards, Cam must have grown up very quickly. I had to live with his mistakes, but he gained the experience. It was good for him. “
Senior striker Jericole Hellems: “He’s my tight end. What I mean by that is a tight end, he can run, he can block, he can catch up. Jericole is a combo striker. He can shoot, he can lead, he can defend. He can do a lot of things. He brings so much to our team. What we don’t see is what he’s doing in the locker room. He’s a great leader. He walked through the fire at NC State. He understands what we’re talking about. He’s an extension of me on the pitch.
“Jericole gives us the opportunity to play in two different ways. You will sometimes see him as the starting little striker. You will sometimes see him as a big guard where we go four guards. You will sometimes see him as a man of four. I would like to keep it like a little before [if] we can bring in guys like Ernest and Greg to have these guys play four. It will not be the development of [Hellems], that will be how fast these guys get ready to play.
Junior Guard Casey Morsell: “We play completely different from Virginia. Their path has been crowned with success. That being said, I think he will have a better opportunity at a different role, more a leadership role and an opportunity to score more baskets. He’s been really good to us.
“What I didn’t know was that I had a really good guy in the locker room. What I didn’t know was that I was becoming an older guy who is a really great defender. Even more, I thought I had a top 50 guy who was a high school goalscorer, but now I have a total package with him.
“He’s going to play a huge role for us. With great respect he brings us what we lost in Devon Daniels. His ability to score inside and outside, he is a physical guard, can put the ball on the ground and reach the edge, is able to shoot all three, shooting the ball better than he ever has fired in his career. I think it will give us an extra dimension that we haven’t had in recent years.
“He’s energetic. He is playing with a chip on his shoulder. He is hungry. He has the opportunity to be a great leader, which I didn’t know when I arrived. Really, really a physical defender and I think he’s going to be great for us.
First year guard Breon Pass: “Breon will play a small leader and also a combo, but he brings a tenacity that we didn’t have. He has a footballing mentality, which is great for us.
Freshman Ernest Ross: “Ernest Ross is long, he’s athletic. He can defend all five positions. He’ll play three, four, five.
“He doesn’t know how good he can be. He plays fair. He makes mistakes but he plays through his mistakes.
“Ernest Ross is good, he has talent, he is long. He can keep one to five, athletic. We were talking about Primetime with the Pack and we were wondering if we were going to have a slam dunk contest. I’ve got these guys on a wire, and Ernest Ross, who’s very calm, if you meet him he doesn’t say much, man, he started talking about the dunk contest. He’s like ‘Dude, I’m ready.’ “
Redshirt sophomore guard / striker Dereon Seabron: “Seabron has become a very good basketball player for us. He’s also a guy who added bulk. He’s long, he’s athletic. He’s probably our most athletic guy on the team. He’s a great offensive rebounder. You can sometimes put the ball in his hands.
First year guard Terquavion Smith: “I know a lot of people would say it’s a bucket. What I mean is he can score in basketball. He’s going to have the opportunity to start a few games for us, could start at the start of the year.
“Terquavion Smith, who was Gatorade North Carolina Player of the Year, is probably one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever seen. He’ll put you in your shoes because a freshman shouldn’t be able to talk like he does. We were in training the other day and we were playing competitively, it was short, three-way games. He hit three match winners at the end. Of course, he got up and let everyone know. One of the things I told him was that as a player you have to whisper that stuff, you can’t say it out loud.
“He’s going to fight for a starting position. I don’t know if he will start on day one, I don’t know if he won’t. He is very competitive and loves to play. As a rookie you have to earn the respect of the team, and I think what he does is earn respect by the way he plays hard. He’s not doing everything right, not the greatest defenseman around right now, but as we work and improve him in some areas I think he can be a really good basketball player for us.