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.