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Mark Gottfried ‘can’t imagine’ anybody but Duke as the nation’s No. 1 team

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North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried had high praise for his in-state rival Duke during Tuesday’s annual summer press conference in Raleigh, N.C.

N.C. State was the preseason favorite in the ACC last year, which ended in disappointment for the Wolfpack. Gottfried not only predicted Duke would be the top team in the new-look ACC, but that the Blue Devils should be the nation’s top team when the season starts this fall. From David Morrison of the Greensboro News & Record:

“I can’t imagine anybody else being picked No. 1 in the country than Duke,” Gottfried told reporters.

Gottfried has some reason to fear Duke heading into next year. Blue Devils do return Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins and Rasheed Sulaimon and add Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and incoming freshman Jabari Parker. That gives Duke one of the more talented and deep perimeters in the country, which will help make up for the loss of Mason Plumlee on the inside.

But I’d like to imagine that Kentucky’s heralded recruiting class, a reloaded Kansas squad and the defending national champion Louisville all have a case to be next season’s top dog. Duke is ranked No. 6 in CBT’s preseason Top 25, behind the three previously mentioned teams as well as Arizona and Michigan State.

The praise from Gottfried was not only on a team level, but an individual one also.

“There’s a lot of attention around Jabari Parker, but wait until you see Rodney Hood,” Gottfried added. “He’s that good. They’re loaded.”

In a projected loaded draft  in 2014, Gottfried believes Hood and Parker should go No. 2 and No. 3 after Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins.

While Gottfried is predicting big things for Duke, he understands that a lot needs to be done for his Wolfpack. N.C. State loses its starting five from last year’s disappointing season. Though, he has a solid incoming class that features three four-star recruits — point guard Anthony Barber, forward Kyle Washington and center BeeJay Anya — in addition to returning rising sophomore T.J. Warren.

“It’s kind of a blank slate,” Gottfried told reporters. “We’re not real sure who can do what yet.

“It’s going to be hard. But it’ll be fun.”

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.