N.C. State lands four-star 2018 big man Ian Steere

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N.C. State added a promising piece to its future on Friday as four-star Class of 2018 big man Ian Steere pledged to the Wolfpack.

The 6-foot-9 Steere was previously committed to Creighton, but he opted out of the commitment recently to play closer to his native North Carolina. Committing to N.C. State makes sense for Steere as the Wolfpack are a local option that also happen to have Steere’s high school teammate, Immanuel Bates, committed as well.

An emerging inside presence on both ends of the floor, Steere is a plus athlete who has the size to play with anyone in the ACC.

Regarded as the No. 104 overall big man in the Class of 2018, Steere joins Bates, another four-star prospect, in N.C. State’s Class of 2018 recruiting haul. Considering that new head coach Kevin Keatts also has Devon Daniels and C.J. Bryce sitting out a transfer year during 2017-18 and he’ll have four new talented players at his disposal for next season.

Four-star guard Jamie Lewis decommits from N.C. State

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N.C. State will have to re-focus its recruiting efforts in the Class of 2018 as four-star guard Jamie Lewis opted to open up his recruitment on Thursday. The news was first reported by Eric Bossi of Rivals.com.

Regarded as the No. 98 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2018, the 6-foot-4 Lewis pledged to the Wolfpack back in June after taking an unofficial visit to campus. Now he will weigh all of his options as he plays at national powerhouse Findlay Prep during his senior season. According to Bossi’s initial report, Lewis will still consider N.C. State the second time around.

While losing Lewis’ commitment hurts, especially since he was N.C. State’s only commitment in the class so far, the Wolfpack do have two talented transfer guards who are eligible next season in UNC-Wilmington’s C.J. Bryce and Utah’s Devon Daniels.

Lewis made some interesting remarks about his decommitment from N.C. State to Jonathan M. Alexander of the The News & Observer on Thursday as he talked about how he sees himself in a different role than what the Wolfpack are doing with their guards. One of the reasons for decommitting, Lewis said, was that he wanted a more, “systematic offense.”

 “A one point-guard type offense,” Lewis said to Alexander. “I know N.C. State is more like a combo guard offense, which is fine with me, but I feel like a pure point guard, so I want to see if any school out there will offer me that type of look.”
As a first-year coach at N.C. State, Kevin Keatts already has a perception about how his guards will play, which is something he’ll have to deal with in recruiting. N.C. State still has plenty of options in the Class of 2018 and they already have the two transfer guards coming in next season, so there is still plenty of time to make up for the departure of Lewis.

N.C. State picks up key graduate transfer from Baylor guard Al Freeman

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N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts earned a key addition on Wednesday afternoon as coveted Baylor graduate transfer Al Freeman decided to play for the Wolfpack next season.

The 6-foot-3 native of Charlotte averaged 9.4 points per game while shooting 38 percent from three-point range last season as he gives N.C. State a veteran guard who can come in and get immediate minutes. Freeman was a key piece for Baylor the last two seasons as he logged 30.0 minutes and 23.3 minutes per game, respectively, the last two seasons for consistent top-25 team.

Freeman and four-star freshman guard Lavar Batts represent two solid recruiting gets for Keatts in his early weeks with the Wolfpack as he’s off to a solid start when it comes to landing talent.

No. 18 Virginia snaps 4-game skid, beats NC State 70-55

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Freshman Kyle Guy scored 19 points to help No. 18 Virginia snap out of an offensive funk to beat North Carolina State 70-55 on Saturday, ending a four-game skid.

Devon Hall added 18 points for the Cavaliers (19-9, 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 49 percent and made 11 of 16 3-pointers – a huge change from missing shot after shot during three particularly ugly offensive performances coming in.

It was Virginia’s longest losing streak since losing nine straight during coach Tony Bennett’s first season in 2009-10. But the Cavaliers led 35-21 by halftime, pushed that to 19 early after halftime and led by double figures nearly the entire second half.

The Wolfpack (15-15, 4-13) made a last-stand run to get within 59-51, only to see London Perrantes bury a 3-pointer with 5:04 left then Hall put back his own miss to push the margin back to 13.

N.C. State got no closer than 10 again in the final regular-season home game for coach Mark Gottfried. The school announced earlier this month that he won’t return next year after a once-promising season completely unraveled.

Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. scored 13 points but made just 4 of 14 shots for N.C. State, which shot 32 percent and made 7 of 27 3s (26 percent).

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: Virginia got its shot back, for a game at least. The Cavaliers had shot just 32 percent in its last three games while making 10 of 52 3-pointers (19 percent). They need this performance badly.

N.C. State: N.C. State finished its home regular-season schedule at 2-7 in ACC games, just one of many reasons for the Wolfpack’s disappointing season that ultimately cost Gottfried his job.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers get a quick turnaround to host No. 8 North Carolina on Monday.

N.C. State: N.C. State plays its regular-season finale Wednesday at Clemson.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

Three Takeaways from N.C. State’s win over No. 17 Duke

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Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. had a monster performance as he scored 32 points and had six assists to lead the Wolfpack past No. 17 Duke for an ACC road win.

Here are three takeaways for an important win for N.C. State.

1. This is the Dennis Smith Jr. (and N.C. State) that we envisioned 

Before this season N.C. State received a lot of hype with some pundits — including NBCSports.com — because people knew that freshman Dennis Smith Jr. was a lottery pick talent and there were other pieces around him that could be productive. Smith has mostly lived up to his top-five hype this season but Monday night’s game saw the North Carolina native go to another level.

Smith comes from a family of N.C. State fans. It is part of the reason he selected the Wolfpack even though they aren’t a one-and-done factory like some other schools. The Wolfpack hadn’t won in Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995 and this year’s N.C. State had lost four of five ACC games entering Monday.

And Smith went completely bonkers. He finished with 32 points and six assists as he was 4-for-6 from three-point range.

At the end of the first half when it looked like Duke might take a double-digit lead into the break, Smith converted a three-point play and followed it up with a tough, contested three to make it a six-point game. The second half saw more of the same from Smith as he nailed pull-up threes, got to the rim and finished through traffic. It was the type of mesmerizing performance that gets casual basketball fans excited about a player before March Madness begins.

Smith wasn’t the only good player for N.C. State on Monday. Freshman big man Ted Kapita gave crucial minutes inside as he registered his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Abdul Malik-Abu was a great secondary option for Smith as he contributed 19 points and nine rebounds. Maverick Rowan (nine points) hit a key late three and some important free throws.

When this team has all of its pieces going you can see why so many people believed N.C. State was capable of the Sweet 16. It feels like this team could be in for a run and the road game at Louisville on Sunday is another major test.

2. Duke is still figuring out its ideal rotation (while getting some answers)

Interim coach Jeff Capel went to some interesting lineup choices on Monday night. Capel started the game by using the lineup that jumpstarted Duke’s second half against Miami. That meant increased minutes for freshman center Marques Bolden as he was paired with Jayson Tatum (16 points) and Frank Jackson.

Seniors Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson were the interchangeable parts who played the most minutes in the first half for the Blue Devils and the second unit included Grayson Allen (13 points), Luke Kennard (20 points) and Harry Giles.

The Blue Devils still have some disjointed sets and scorers are still struggling to play with Tatum at times but there were some promising signs. Giles (eight points, seven rebounds) continues to improve his natural timing and he knocked down a face-up jumper from 17 feet with ease that could help keep defenders honest on him.

There was some good but there was also some bad. Bolden regressed to being a non-factor once again and Allen struggled to find a consistent scoring touch with a 4-for-13 performance.

We still have yet to see the (mostly) full strength Blue Devils that make us believe they are a national title contender. It’ll be interesting to see which lineup ultimately plays the best for Duke but they’re struggling to figure out a consistent rotation.

3. Can N.C. State sustain this kind of effort on a nightly basis?

Monday night was N.C. State’s first road win of the season. So for as big as this win is, the Wolfpack still have a long way to go to becoming a consistent factor in a ridiculously deep ACC. Smith is going to get tested quite a bit by Louisville’s length and athleticism on Sunday and playing in front of that Cardinal crowd is one of the hardest things to do in college basketball.

It doesn’t get any easier for N.C. State and they can’t have a major letdown after the high of a road win like this. That losing stretch of four out of five games included some really bad losses. Boston College, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest are the kind of losses that tournament teams can’t sustain on a regular basis so the Wolfpack have to take care of  business against teams like that for the rest of the season.

Success on the road will also help N.C. State’s tournament cause. This Duke win is nice but now the Wolfpack get two more cracks at top-15 teams away from home with Louisville and Florida State in the next two weeks. If N.C. State can somehow split those road games and stay strong at home they’ll be in good shape the rest of the way.

North Carolina and N.C. State postponed due to weather.

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North Carolina and N.C. State’s game that was scheduled for Saturday has been moved to Sunday at 1 p.m.

The game was moved one day due to dangerous road conditions thanks to sub-freezing temperatures.

Here is the announcement from the ACC.

(H/t: Andrew Carter)