Gottfried strikes again — lands potential starting senior point guard

NC State may have evolved from 2011-2012 ‘also ran’ to NCAA Tournament material in Mark Gottfried’s one short month on the job.

Earlier this week, the new Wolfpack coaching staff pulled a surprise when they landed European power forward Thomas de Thaey over Washington and Wake Forest. (please click this link) De Thaey is 235 pounds and 6 feet 8 inches; he is expected to bring some toughness and versatility to the Wolfpack’s front court roster. We think his game will fit nicely into (what we expect to see from) the UCLA high-post offense. He averaged 18.4 points for the Belgium under-20 National Team and should be more physically and emotionally mature than most freshmen due to his age.

Today, NC State picked up a player to plug the most glaring hole on NC State’s roster — starting point guard — when Cal State Bakersfield’s starting point guard, Alex Johnson, announced his intentions to transfer to west Raleigh. Because he already has his undergraduate degree, Johnson can play immediately for NC State while he pursues a post-graduate degree.

You can click here for more on Johnson and a video.

Johnson…was the Roadrunners starting point guard last season. He averaged 13 pts and 2.4 assists while only turning the ball over an average 2 times per game (31 min. per game). Forced to take a redshirt season thanks to an unfortunate ACL injury, Johnson took care of all his required school work and received his diploma…

While only standing at 5’10 Johnson has shown the ability to make plays. He’s a heady point guard with ACC quicks and the ability to defend. Most importantly, however, is his experience. Without having to go through the growing pains of a young freshman, NC State could have the luxury of slotting in seasoned point guard who has already proven he can get it done at the college level. The only thing he’d need to get acclimated with would be his new teammates and a different system.

Johnson made a team-high 79 3-pointers and ended his career #2 on the all-time list of made three pointers (165) in school history. tweeted this afternoon that Scott Wood made 72 3-pointers last year (for comparison).

If Johnson can contribute as expected, NC State’s projected starting line-up for the 2011-2012 is adequate to position the Pack for a shot at an NCAA Tournament bubble bid; but inexperienced depth – particularly in the backcourt – could prove a fatal achilles heel unless one of the three freshmen can surprise and provide the roster an unexpected boost.

A starting line-up of Johnson, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, CJ Leslie and Richard Howell talented, versatile and athletic. Supplementing these five with CJ Williams, DeShawn Painter and Jordan Vandenberg gives State at least eight players that have major college experience.

The following is a quick look at NC State’s current and projected roster for the coming years:

Senior Class
(1) CJ Williams (Wing)
(13) Alex Johnson (PG)

Junior Class
(2) Scott Wood (Wing)
(3) Richard Howell (PF)
(4) Jordan Vandenberg (C)
(5) DeShawn Painter (PF/C)

Sophomore Class
(6) Lorenzo Brown (PG/SG)
(7) CJ Leslie (SF/PF)

Freshman Class
(8) Tyler Harris (F)
(9) Jaquan Raymond (G)
(10) Thomas de Thaey (PF)

2012 Commits
(11) Tyler Lewis (PG)
(12) Torian Graham (SG)
(13) Departure of Alex Johnson
(1) Departure of CJ Williams

2013 Commits
(2) Departure of Scott Wood (Wing)
(3) Departure of Richard Howell (PF)
(4) Departure of Jordan Vandenberg (C)
(5) Departure of DeShawn Painter (PF/C)

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68 Responses to Gottfried strikes again — lands potential starting senior point guard

  1. Statefan1998 05/22/2011 at 1:31 PM #

    What a pick up, very impressive. Really looking forward to next year. Although, like BAM, I remember the excitement and let down of last year.

  2. JEOH2 05/22/2011 at 1:36 PM #

    I love everything about this except that word “starting” if he and Lo Brown start there would be no back-up PG with any experience…

    It’d make more sense to have LoBrown at 1 and AJ at the back-up playing 10-15 min a game…

  3. EdMar 05/22/2011 at 1:56 PM #

    I like it! It does not matter who starts, I like the fact that we have another body with experience and talent to run the point. That should take a lot of pressure off Lo Brown and allow Jaquawn Raymond to develop instead of throwing him in the fire like Javi was thrown in as a freshman.

    It looks from the stats that he protects the ball and does not mind distributing the BB, which is what we need.

    Time will ultimately tell about Gottfried, but I like what he has done in the first few weeks running with THE PACK.

  4. StateFans 05/22/2011 at 2:00 PM #

    JEOH2, I don’t understand why anyone would go get starting point guard only to play him 10-15 minutes a game?

    In that scenario, CJ Leslie would be on the wing with Howell & Painter/Vandenberg starting at the post…CJ shot about 2 for 200 from 10 feet out last year.

    I think there will be tons of time when Johnson & LoBrown are not on the court at the same time due to the need to have at least one of them on the floor at all times. But, I don’t like any lineup that has CJ Leslie at the wing until he proves he can shoot, play defense and not turn the ball over.

  5. JEOH2 05/22/2011 at 2:59 PM #

    i def can understand the concern w/ CJL…but i’ll agree to disagree in that just because he was a staring pg for Cal Bakersfield doesn’t mean he was picked up to start immediately for NC State…

    the biggest concern I had for next year was depth at PG…now w/ AJ we have that experienced back-up PG we lacked…i’m sure there will be plenty of scenarios where AJ plays the 1 and Zo the 2, but i think the starting PG position is something he’ll have to take away from Zo in practice…and if he can, all the better for us…

  6. Avid109 05/22/2011 at 3:25 PM #

    At this point, it looks like Coach Gottfried will have enough talented player to field a pretty good team next season. The big question is: will he be able to put all of the pieces together and develop team chemistry. We’ve had a shortage of teamwork for a while.

  7. sundropdrinker13 05/22/2011 at 3:35 PM #

    Just looking at his stats, he is not going to be the starter, unless he improves dramatically. 36% FG shooting, his 3pt% has gone down every year. I think he was just brought in to give us experienced depth for 1 year, to spell Zo when needed.

    Here’s his career stats.

  8. BJD95 05/22/2011 at 5:05 PM #

    Playable guard depth that can’t possibly hurt us longterm with scholarship usage/spacing. So I love this move whether he’s really any good or not. Anything more is a real bonus.

    Still think we’ll suck, but we won’t “Wake or BC-level suck” and will be watchable at least. That’s a very positive development. Perhaps even an outside shot at the NIT.

  9. Wolfy__79 05/22/2011 at 5:20 PM #

    yes! great pick up! i don’t care if he only sees ten minutes.. adding depth to the backcourt whether its a starting role or he’s coming of the bench.. this is a win for us. lorenzo HAS to develop at pg to continue to the nba imo. this gives him a little more leash to develop in that role! i like the de thaey pick up!! we’ve got a pretty versatile line of forwards whether mg wants to band in the middle or stretch defenses out!! right now, with mg’s additions to the roster.. i could see him pushing towards the ncaas.. but i’m okay if it just turns out to be an nit birth in year 1.

    nice job coach!

  10. Wolfy__79 05/22/2011 at 5:20 PM #

    ^bang the middle..

  11. JSRy2k 05/22/2011 at 5:57 PM #

    BJD, you stole my very thoughts re: Johnson – instant depth with zero long-term risk. Also, someone on the msg board posted a highlight video which included him taking a charge! We haven’t seen that in the last five years, so I say he’s a keeper.

  12. choppack1 05/22/2011 at 6:03 PM #

    I think this adds much needed depth to our backcourt. I don’t see him starting, but I think he provides much needed depth and maturity. He’ll also give our staff some options towards the end of ball games.

    Great pick-up at this of the year.

  13. haze 05/22/2011 at 7:04 PM #

    Perfect pick-up for us… practice player, spot backup PG, starting PG or backup 2G, it doesn’t matter. Alex is a one-year guy, so anything he gives us is pure gravy.

    Also puts 100% focus on the ’12 class with 2 to give. Would love to lock up a couple (Purvis, Warren) early and then start really working the system for those 4 to give in ’13.

  14. Wolfy__79 05/22/2011 at 7:30 PM #

    btw.. if you hit the link provided above that goes to packinsider.. just watch the reel.. as stated above, he’s shown taking a charge from a guy coming off a break!! it is a highlight reel, but he’s shown banging some three pointers and creating his own offense.. mostly, it shows his unselfishness, getting the ball to his teammates.

    i have lorenzo pegged as our starter, the only change is that he may see some time at 2 as he progresses/learns the 1. johnson appears, in the video, to be a pretty decent player. surely it’s not acc competition but it’s good evidence to me just seeing his play.. i suggest taking a look at it.

    i can’t wait to see what we look like under MG. i’ve seen some footage of his past teams.. i’m wondering what new wrinkles he’ll have and how it looks in the RED & WHITE!


  15. Wolfy__79 05/22/2011 at 7:32 PM #

    i’m also looking forward to see what else cjw has in his game. i think he may have been under utilized with all the personalities around before.. hopefully, he can get some good work in his senior year and hit the pro’s somewhere!

  16. Clarksa 05/22/2011 at 9:09 PM #

    So this is what happens when you run a competent coaching search and then hire a coach with college experience?

  17. Rochester 05/22/2011 at 9:32 PM #

    I never understood why we didn’t seek these type of 4-year players in the past, especially given that we’ve played so many seasons with open scholarships. There are always guys out there that can be added for immediate depth, and we were derailed frequently by a lack of ballhandlers, etc. 4-year transfers usually aren’t the most talented guys in the league, but that experience puts them so far ahead of a raw freshman there are times when these moves make a lot of sense.

    Georgia Tech picked up Matt Causey a few years ago under similar circumstances, and while he wasn’t all-ACC or anything, he was solid, which was more than we had at the point then. (He put up 18 points and 5 assists against us.)

    I’m very pleased with this pickup. Absolutely no downside. Glad to have AJ on board.

  18. mak4dpak 05/22/2011 at 10:58 PM #

    Fellow wolfpackers, I do believe we have sufficient cause for optimism! Go MG! And we are talkin basketball.

  19. bTHEredterror 05/23/2011 at 12:26 AM #

    BJD hit the nail, its high reward/low risk move.

    It really doesn’t matter what Johnson gives the team in game. If all he does is keep Lo from having to play 40 minutes and adds a guard to the practice squad for one year it’s worth it. If he doesn’t contribute one iota, so what? It’s one year and a year in which any rational fan knows to temper expectations anyway. That eliminates a majority of our fanbase, I know……but if he is a bridge to the guard depth coming NY I’ll be thrilled.

    Judging from that video, he should be a good change of pace from Brown and can make plays for himself and others. He gives Coach Gott some options for adjustments, and five more fouls in a pinch at least. For sure the talent he’s going against will be better, but the same is true of the talent around him. There are only a couple glaring mismatches in the league referring to his size, which isn’t ideal. We should be used to that anyway, and he’s bigger than Harrow at least.

  20. stejen 05/23/2011 at 1:04 AM #

    I am enjoying the fact that so many people that have the “we can’t compete with the blues” are now having to deal with the fact that we pretty much stole two guys out from under their noses. If nothing else Gottfried has shown that he hit the ground running. Wouldn’t it have been so much easier (and maybe made more sense from a professional stndpoint) to sit back and have a lousy season next year, blame it all on Lowe, Harrow transferring, no depth, etc., and THEN hit the pavement? Gottfried and TOB have both not yet shown me their are national championship caliber coaches but they have shown me that failure is not an option. I am not saying Johnson would have had Coach K or Williams salivating but if they had a spot open do you think they would have turned him down if he called them? There is absolutely no downside to this. If he does not work out then we are no worse off, but if he does then that is gravy. My hope is that he can provide leadership and get State to play team ball next year. He has shown he has initiative by getting his degree in four years so I think that is a good sign that he is willing to do what it takes to make State a better team.

  21. camel77 05/23/2011 at 1:11 AM #

    BJD95. Sounds like you are coming around on the coaching hire. Just don’t know why so negatives on next year team. Even if we had kept Sydney, I think we would have been a NCAA team. We would have better Senior leadership this year which we didn’t have this year. The team would have a whole year experience of playing together and the Freshmen would have a year of growing up. After the coaching change, my only concern was losing some of the team. When Harrow legged, I wasn’t so sure but with the pick-up of Johnson I am back on board.
    Lo is more of a combo guard and don’t have all that much experience of playing the point. With Johnson transferring in, Lo will have time to get use to the position without the whole pressure being on his shoulders.

    You have to like what MG and staff have done so far and think positive. GO STATE!!!

  22. travelwolf 05/23/2011 at 1:55 AM #

    Have you guys noticed that everyone MG has recruited can shoot very well? Well, I’m not sure about Jaqawn Raymond… I wonder if that’s one reason he dropped Joseph Uchebo.

  23. TeufelWolf 05/23/2011 at 5:13 AM #

    I can’t see any downside to his addition.

    1. If he’s a starter…well that’s self-explanitory
    2. If he splits time at PG then at least he’ll take some pressure off of Brown while he transitions to being a true PG and also help develop Raymond.
    3. If he backs up Brown, he’ll come off the bench shooting a solid 35-40% from behind the arc while protecting the ball.
    4. If he does nothing more than provide solid competition in practice then it’s a win.

    No matter the scenario, his presence already creates competition which elevates everyone’s game. His intangible qualities are also impressive. He’s obviously motivated; earning a degree in three years. I like the initiative he took in seeking us out and sending in highlights. He showed maturity by being up front and honest with his coach before doing anything. By his own admission, he is extremely thankful for the opportunity to play in Raleigh. And he chose us over FSU. His only drawback is that he’s Canadian so it’ll take some time getting used to his beady eyes and bobbing head (kidding).

    Like any Pack fan, I try not to let myself get too optimistic at this point in the year. But, I have to say that I am excited by all the changes I’ve already seen from the program run by Gottfried, Lutz, Early, and Moxley.

    If the players work as hard as the coaches already have then it’ll be good to see some well-conditioned, good-shooting, team-oriented basketball next year. Especially with the red seats and the “STATE” uniforms. I can’t remember being this optimistic about basketball season in May.

    GO PACK!!!

  24. PackMan97 05/23/2011 at 6:38 AM #

    @Camel77, our team lacked leadership last year. Making those juniors that didn’t show leadership into seniors isn’t going to magically make them leaders. In addition the old coaches didn’t show much in the way of player development, strength and training over the past 5 seasons. I doubt the critical weaknesses we had would have gotten fixed.

    As for Brown not playing PG…he played pretty good when Harrow missed a few games. He’s not ideal, but he should be better than a lot of the non-true PGs we’ve run with over the past two decades.

  25. rtpack24 05/23/2011 at 7:59 AM #

    Talked to a couple of coaches that have seen Johnson play and they said that he can play on both ends of the floor. This is a huge pick up. It gives us an experienced backcourt player that we are in great need of and he only ties up a scholly for 1 year. I think it is obivious now why Gott let Uchebo go. I must admit that so far I have been impressed with the way Gott has run the program and recruited.

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