In the past ten days the college basketball Gods have been on NC State’s side. Although State fans at times have had their fair share of unfortunate luck in the past with numerous transfers plus players entering the draft during the Mark Gottfried era, Coach Gottfried and the staff have been on a roll of lately. NC State’s recent stretch of good news has caught CBS reporter Matt Norlander’s attention as he believes NC State could now be a top-15 team in the country. Darius Hicks started the good news when he committed to NC State on May 13th picking The Pack over Cincinnati. Hicks is a 6’7″ 210 pound forward with a forty-four inch vertical. Darius is projected to play power forward in college but will be undersized at his position but makes up what he lacks in height with his incredible athleticism. Hicks looks to dunk everything around the rim as having Dennis Smith Jr. at point guard was a major factor with Hicks picking NC State. Hicks covets a point guard to throw him the ball up at the rim in fast breaks situations where he excels. Hicks is more of a developmental college player but will provide the team with a spark of energy off the bench next year but don’t look for him to get that many minutes as a true freshman.
Omer Yurtseven was the next major coup when he committed on May 16th. Yurtseven checks in around 7 feet and weighs close to 240 pounds. This was incredible for Mark Gottfried and the staff to land such a quality player this late in the recruiting stage as credit for landing Yurtseven needs to be given to assistant coach Orlando Early. A couple months ago, Coach Gottfried visited Yurtseven in Turkey as that trip paid dividends for NC State landing the five star center. Yurtseven took three official visits to Utah, Syracuse plus NC State then eventually decided after his visits to call NC State his future home. Yurtseven will be an immediate impact player with his height and skill. He recently scored 91 points in a game alongside pulling down 28 boards. Omer will help NC State offensively with his array of solid post moves, ability to rebound the ball, block shots around the rim and shows the ability to step out and hit a mid-range shot. His game should work quite well with Gottfried’s UCLA offense as NC State fans should be excited about what he has to bring to the court next year. Scout.com recruiting analysis Evan Daniels said he would rate Omer the number one center in high school basketball if he played his high school ball in the States. A thing to be aware of is Yurtseven’s eligibility. The NCAA will look into his eligibility since his coach on his team overseas has stated that Yurtseven took money to play but Yurtseven denies this as he has stated he hasn’t touched any money. From what I’ve heard, Yurtseven more than likely will be cleared and will suit up for the Wolfpack next season.
Following Hicks’ and Yurtseven’s decisions to commit t0 NC State, the good news for State fans continued as Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya announced they would be withdrawing their names from the NBA draft to return to NC State. Jeff Goodman tweeted out a couple of weeks ago that Abu was looking to potentially transfer or enter the draft which left NC State fans panicking and upset. In the long run, Abu made the correct decision to return to school for one more year. Abu and Yurtseven could make up one of the top front-courts in college basketball next year with their incredible skill sets. BeeJay Anya, the school’s all-time leading shot blocker made the correct decision returning to school as well. Anya will provide NC State with depth off the bench and help as usual with his defensive presence.
Last Friday NC State received a commitment from Spencer Newman, a 6’3″ guard from Daphne, Alabama. Newman will join the team as a walk-on but will attempt to earn a scholarship in the future. He had interest from Valparaiso but decided to walk-on at NC State instead. Newman scored over 2000 points in high school as he shows the ability to score the basketball.
LenNard Freeman underwent successful surgery last Wednesday. Freeman’s surgery consisted of removing a 16-inch steel rod from his left leg and replaced the old rod with a thicker rod. Freeman struggled with this injury last season as Mark Gottfried anticipates Freeman red-shirting this upcoming season unless a miracle occurs in Freeman’s recovery.
Junior College forward Gibson Johnson from Salt Lake Community College in Utah is scheduled to visit NC State this Friday through Sunday as he is a member of the 2016 class. Johnson has had visits scheduled to NC State this month but they have been postponed. He is a 6’8″ power forward that can play inside plus outside that will help stretch the floor. The other school recruiting Johnson currently is Hawaii but Hawaii isn’t eligible to compete in the NCAA tournament next year due to NCAA sanctions.
Be on the look out for high school guard Markell Johnson. Johnson is a 6’1″ point guard from Cleveland, Ohio who is flirting with the idea of possibility becoming eligible for the 2016 class instead of the 2017 class. Markell will graduate from his high school this Thursday. He has flip-flopped with the idea of being in the class of 2016 but if he does decide to attend a university in the fall, NC State is in a good position to land his commitment but will have to fight off West Virginia, Xavier and Ohio State. He would still have to take three classes over the summer to be able to play in the fall at a university as Johnson would most likely make his college decision in early July. If Johnson decides to go to the 2016 route, look for him to officially visit NC State in June. Johnson would fill the only hole currently on the roster of a backup point guard.
NC State is potentially looking at a top five class if Gibson Johnson plus Markell Johnson commit to NC State. Mark Gottfried has shown again that he can make a late push for players to fill out the roster he wants for upcoming seasons. NC State looks to be in great position next year with Dennis Smith Jr., Torin Dorn, Terry Henderson, Maverick Rowan, Shaun Kirk, Darius Hicks, Abdul-Malik Abu, BeeJay Anya and Omer Yurtseven already in the fold.