While the N.C. State Wolfpack don’t lack for talent in their front court entering the 2013-14 season, they don’t have a great deal of experience. 6-foot-8 sophomore T.J. Warren is expected to be one of the ACC’s best after posting averages of 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game as a freshman (Warren led the ACC in field goal percentage), and he’ll lead a group that includes freshmen BeeJay Anya, Lennard Freeman and Kyle Washington.
Unfortunately N.C. State will be without the services of their oldest big man, as the school announced on Friday that 7-foot-1 center Jordan Vandenberg will miss anywhere from four to six weeks after injuring his left ankle during the Wolfpack’s exhibition game on Thursday night. According to the release Vandenberg suffered the injury just over five minutes into N.C. State’s 96-85 victory over UNC Pembroke.
Last season, with Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie seeing the majority of the minutes inside, Vandenberg played an average of just 5.4 minutes per game. Thursday night Vandenberg got the start against UNC Pembroke, with Warren and Washington being the other two front court starters. Warren led all scorers with 26 points to go along with ten rebounds, while Washington (eight points, four rebounds in 18 minutes of action) and Freeman (three points, five rebounds in 21 minutes) saw solid playing time in their Wolfpack debut.
As for Anya, he played just five minutes, and his physical fitness was something N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried discussed during ACC media day in mid-October. With Vandenberg sidelined for the time being, Anya’s progress in this department becomes even more important due to the Wolfpack’s lack of interior depth.
Depth isn’t a major issue on the perimeter however, with LSU transfer Ralston Turner (20 points, four assists vs. UNC Pembroke), sophomore Tyler Lewis (15 assists) and freshman Anthony “Cat” Barber (14 points) among the options at Gottfried’s disposal.