Four-star combo guard becomes NC State’s fourth 2016 commit

Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP
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With Cat Barber moving on to the professional ranks and freshman Dennis Smith Jr. returning to the court after missing all of last season with a torn ACL, adding another player capable of handling some point guard duties would help NC State in 2016-17. Monday afternoon Mark Gottfried’s program received a commitment from a player who can help the Wolfpack on the perimeter, as combo guard Markell Johnson announced that he’ll be joining the ACC program.

Johnson, who announced the news via his Twitter account, is a 6-foot-1 guard who’s ranked 40th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com. Johnson announced that he would reclassify from the 2017 class to 2016 in early May, and as a result many high major programs intensified their pursuit of the Cleveland, Ohio native’s services.

Johnson played with the King James Shooting Stars grassroots program during the spring on the Nike EYBL circuit. His commitment gives NC State a second option in that role along with Smith, and as noted above Smith is comign off of a torn ACL.

“Markell Johnson is an explosive athlete with a great first step and he should step in and form a tough backcourt duo with fellow incoming freshman Dennis Smith,” noted NBC Sports recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Johnson can be shaky with his perimeter jumper and decision making, but he’ll be very tough to keep out of the paint and his commitment gives the Wolfpack another guard who can make plays off the dribble.”

Johnson joins Smith, forward Darius Hicks and center Omer Yutseven in NC State’s 2016 freshman class. And after there was a great deal of concern regarding the NC State roster in the immediate aftermath of the 2015-16 season, thanks to a combination of transfers and NBA Draft early entrants. But with Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya withdrawing from the Draft and the program’s hot spring on the recruiting front, the Wolfpack have the depth and talent needed to return to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season.