NC State Wolfpack

Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP

Yurtseven makes debut in NC State win

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The first glimpse of a full-strength NC State team proved impressive Thursday.

The Wolfpack, playing with Omer Yurtseven for the first time this season, defeated Appalachian State, 97-64, in the first of what appears a four-game tune-up before ACC play later this month.

Yurtseven missed NC State’s first nine games of the season in an NCAA decision that stemmed from his getting paid to play for a professional club in his native Turkey. The Wolfpack went 7-2 without him, but in his debut it was easy to see why he’s projected as a first-round NBA draft pick as early as this June.

The 7-foot freshman made 4 of 6 shots – including one from 3-point range – to score 12 points while also collecting four rebounds. His skill level offensively was apparent, even if he’s still working into game shape. It was far from a perfect performance as he tallied four turnovers and four fouls in 24 minutes. There’s plenty for Yurtseven to work on and work into, but the potential he flashed was hard to miss.

Yurtseven wasn’t the only one that the Wolfpack were integrating as sophomore sharpshooter Maverick Rowan was playing in just his second game back after a seven-game absence due to a concussion. After playing just 12 minutes over the weekend in an overtime win against Tennessee State, Rowan logged 23 minutes against App State, hitting 4 of 8 shots overall and 1 of 2 from distance to score 13 points.

NC State’s non-conference run without, mostly, Yurtseven and Rowan has been fine. They don’t have any signature wins, but a neutral loss to Creighton and a road loss to Illinois are the Wolfpack’s only blemishes and those will be far from problematic come March. They don’t, though, have any other opportunities to claim a significant win before ACC play with Fairfield, McNeese State and Rider left on the schedule.

That means they’ve got another three games to get Yurtseven, and to a lesser extent Rowan, acclimated before their real season starts in earnest. If those two can be productive when paired with the likes of Dennis Smith, Abdul-Malik Abu, Terry Henderson and Torin Dorn, NC State may quickly become one of the most interesting teams in the country.

Five-star Bowen cuts list to six

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Five-star 2017 prospect Brian Bowen has trimmed his list of possible collegiate destinations to six.

Creighton, North Carolina State, UCLA, Michigan State, Arizona and Texas are still under consideration, Bowen announced Wednesday evening.

Bowen, a consensus top-20 recruit, is a 6-foot-8 small forward out of Sagniaw, Mich., but he currently is attending the prestigious La Lumiere School in Indiana. He’s also the cousin of former Michigan State star Jason Richardson, leaving many to believe that he’s a heavy Spartan lean.

“People think I’m 100 percent to Michigan State,” Bowen told Brendan Quinn of MLive.com earlier this month. “I love them to death and I’ve been there my whole life and everything — it’s a great coaching staff and everything — but I’m not 100 percent to a school until I commit there. Right now, I’m open to the schools that are recruiting.”

Bowen hasn’t said when he plans on making a final decision.

Coach K calls North Carolina’s HB2 “embarrassing”

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Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had short but strong words about the North Carolina bill HB2 that cost Duke a home opponent, has thrown the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte into jeopardy and has sparked outcry from around the country.

“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Krzyzewski told USA TODAY of the bill that requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender listed on their birth certificate. The state is currently locked in a legal battle over the bill after the Department of Justice deemed in in violation of the Civil Rights Act.

“That’s all I’m going to say about it,” Krzyzewski said while at USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas.

The Blue Devils’ scheduled November matchup with Albany in Durham was cancelled due to New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order that bars non-essential state travel to North Carolina in response to HB2. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has threatened to move the league’s 2017 All-Star weekend if the bill remains.

Another coach from within the state shared Krzyzewski’s sentiment.

“I’m against any law that allows discrimination, whether that’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation,” NC State coach Mark Gottfried told USA TODAY. “I don’t understand how someone can support this. I think the people at N.C. State, we believe in inclusion. Being a resident of the state, for me and my family, it’s been frustrating.”

Nevada lands Martin twins

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Eric Musselman keeps adding reinforcements to his roster. For the 2017-18 season.

Musselman and Nevada received commitments from N.C. State transfers and twin brothers Caleb and Cody Martin, according to multiple reports.

That brings Nevada’s sit-out transfer count for this upcoming season to four with Hallice Cooke (Iowa State) and Kendall Stephens (Purdue) already in the fold. Under NCAA transfer rules, the quartet will have to sit out the upcoming season before being eligible in 2017-18.

Caleb averaged 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 36 percent from deep while Cody put up 6.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc.

The timing of having four sit-out transfers works well for the Wolf Pack given that two of the team’s three leading scorers from last year, D.J. Fenner (a senior) and Cameron Oliver (a sophomore), return while senior transfers Marcus Marshall (Missouri State) becomes eligible. Having those four experienced transfers begin playing in 2017-18 while all but two players from this upcoming team slated to return makes Nevada an interesting team, a year from now.

NC State’s Henderson out 6-8 weeks with ankle injury

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Friday was quite the emotional roller coaster for the NC State men’s basketball program. The happiness that came with the news that head coach Mark Gottfried’s contract had been extended gave way to disappointment, as the Wolfpack not only lost decisively to William & Mary but lost a key contributor as well.

Guard Terry Henderson, who sat out last season after transferring in from West Virginia, suffered an ankle injury in the loss that is expected to sideline him anywhere from six to eight weeks. X-rays and an MRI revealed torn ligaments in Henderson’s right ankle, with the injury occurring during the first half of NC State’s 85-68 loss to the Tribe in Raleigh.

With Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner being the two biggest losses from last year’s Sweet 16 team, Henderson was expected to have an immediate impact for the Wolfpack this season. Now with the 6-foot-5 off guard sidelined for a timeframe that could reach the start of conference play, NC State will have to find other answers on the perimeter.

“Obviously, this is a big blow to Terry and to our team,” Gottfried said in the release. “I feel badly for Terry. He worked extremely hard to get ready for this year. Our team has to adjust and we will need some young players to step up.”

Among those who will need to step forward for NC State are sophomore Caleb Martin and freshman Maverick Rowan. Martin was part of the starting lineup Friday night and he was NC State’s most productive offensive player, scoring a game-high 21 points and shooting 5-for-10 from three. Rowan played 34 minutes against William & Mary, absorbing many of the minutes that became available when Henderson left the game, finishing with 16 points but shooting just 1-for-8 from three.

Cody Martin played 16 minutes off the bench but failed to score, and Cat Barber’s off night from the field (4-for-16 FG, 11 points, six assists) didn’t help matters as NC State struggled on both ends of the floor against William & Mary.

NC State, Ole Miss among eight teams in 2016 Paradise Jam

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While the 2015-16 season has yet to get underway, some in-season tournaments have already begun the process of finalizing teams for the 2016-17 campaign. Wednesday evening the Paradise Jam revealed its eight-team field for the 2016 edition of the event, which is scheduled to be played November 18-21, 2016 at the University of the Virgin Islands.

NC State, which has reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last four seasons under head coach Mark Gottfried, is part of the event as are Andy Kennedy’s Ole Miss Rebels. Completing the field are Creighton, Loyola-Chicago, Oral Roberts, Montana, Saint Joseph’s and Washington State.

Of the eight teams just two have made prior appearances at the Paradise Jam. Phil Martelli’s Saint Joseph’s team finished fifth in 2009, with Ole Miss finishing third two years later. Washington State may have the most interesting connection to this tournament, however.

The father of forward Josh Hawkinson, who was the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player last season and will be a senior in 2016-17, created the Paradise Jam back in 2000. That should make for a fun return to the Virgin Islands for Josh next November. Nels Hawkinson is the executive director of Basketball Travelers, a company some may be familiar with as they’ve set up foreign tours for many college basketball programs over the years.

While NC State and Ole Miss are the lone teams in this field to reach the NCAA tournament last season, Montana is one of the favorites in the Big Sky entering the 2015-16 season and ORU is expected to be a factor in the Summit League. Scott Sutton’s Golden Eagles were picked to finish third in the Summit League preseason coaches poll.