Less than seven minutes into Saturday’s game between South Carolina State and NC State, the game was delayed due to a medical emergency involving a South Carolina State player. While NC State’s Markell Johnson was being helped off the court after suffering a knee injury, a South Carolina State player reported to be senior guard Tyvoris Solomon collapsed while on the bench.
Solomon was eventually taken off the court via stretcher, with both teams heading back to their respective locker rooms. The teams were to go through a ten-minute warmup period before resuming play. At the time of the stoppage NC State led 22-5 with 13:08 remaining in the half.
Solomon, whose condition has been stabilized, has been taken to a local hospital with head coach Murray Garvin making the trip as well. Associate head coach Rio Pitt took over the coaching duties in Garvin’s absence.
Shortly before the team’s game against Penn State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the NC State men’s basketball program announced that it will be without two front court players. Darius Hicks, who injured his right knee during practice earlier this week, will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Also sitting out Wednesday’s game is senior Abdul-Malik Abu, who has been dealing with soreness in his right knee. Abu, who suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in the knee in October, is considered to be on a “game by game” basis with regards to his return to the court.
Hicks, a 6-foot-7 sophomore from Quitman, Mississippi, has been on the fringe of the NC State front court rotation for much of his time on campus. This season he played an average of 8.5 minutes per game, accounting for 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per night. Hicks, who did not play in the Battle 4 Atlantis last weekend, scored ten points and grabbed five rebounds in a win over Bryant on November 14.
As for Abu, the 6-foot-8 senior from Boston was expected to a key cog in the Wolfpack front court attack after averaging 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a junior. Abu did not make his 2017-18 debut until the Battle 4 Atlantis, playing 17 minutes and tallying eight points and eight rebounds in NC State’s win over then-No. 2 Arizona.
With Abu out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, the production of senior Lennard Freeman and sophomore Omer Yurtseven will be of even greater importance for the Wolfpack. Freeman is averaging 12.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season, with Yurtseven accounting for 11.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per night.
The case of NC State freshman guard Braxton Beverly has been an interesting one to follow, as it has left many infuriated with the NCAA and the way it handles eligibility cases. Beverly enrolled at Ohio State in May under the assumption that he would be playing for the coach he committed to in Thad Matta. In June the school made a change, with Matta stepping down and Chris Holtmann taking over as head coach.
Beverly would ultimately decide to move on, transferring to NC State. The hope was that the extenuating circumstances would be considered in Beverly’s appeal to be eligible this year, but the NCAA said no on two separate occasions despite the departure of the head coach Beverly committed to playing for at Ohio State. Beverly, who did attend classes at Ohio State, has decided that he will not take this ruling lying down.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Beverly has retained the services of attorney Scott Tompsett with the hope that he can suit up for the Wolfpack this season. NC State submitted Beverly’s case for reconsideration as a result of Tompsett being hired.
Tompsett is no stranger to taking on the NCAA, as past clients include former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun, Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez and current college basketball head coaches Randy Bennett (Saint Mary’s), Ben Howland (Mississippi State) and Rob Senderoff (Kent State).
Tompsett also represented former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino in the aftermath of the NCAA’s ruling on the stripper scandal, with Pitino being given a five-game suspension.
It should be noted that four months after the NCAA made its ruling on sanctions for the Louisville basketball program, Pitino was relieved of his duties in connection to the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption and bribes in college basketball recruiting.
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.
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.”
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 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.