N.C. State men's basketball 2017-18 season preview

N.C. State Wolfpack

2016-17 record: 15-17, 4-14 in the ACC

Head coach: Kevin Keatts

Career coaching record: 72-28

Tenure at N.C. State: 1st season

Home court: PNC Arena

Starters: G Torin Dorn, G Markell Johnson, F Abdul-Malik Abu, F Lennard Freeman, C Omer Yurtseven

Bench: G/F Shaun Kirk, G Allerik Freeman, G Sam Hunt

Overview: Things never seem to be quiet in Raleigh, and this offseason was no different for the Wolfpack. After a meager 48-58 ACC record in six seasons with N.C. State, head coach Mark Gottfried was fired—but the school did not look far for its next leader, bringing in Kevin Keatts from nearby UNC Wilmington following consecutive NCAA tournament appearances with the Seahawks.

Although the Wolfpack lost several key pieces of their 2016-17 roster, including Dennis Smith Jr. and Terry Henderson to the NBA, Maverick Rowan to the G-League and Ted Kapita to Europe, Keatts still has options to play with. Big man Omer Yurtseven returns for a second season at N.C. State, and along with upperclassmen Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman, gives the Wolfpack a solid frontcourt core.

The questions come mainly in the backcourt, however. Although redshirt junior Torin Dorn, who shot better than 50 percent from the field last season, will anchor the Wolfpack offense, sophomore Markell Johnson will likely be tasked with running the point. He should get some help from graduate transfers Allerik Freeman and Sam Hunt, but N.C. State lacks any significant depth, and one injury or bad season could derail the first year of the Keatts era.

One thing that needs to go right: Abu finds his rhythm as one of the ACC's best big men. If the senior can consistently post numbers like he did at Duke last January, when his 19 points and nine rebounds sparked the Wolfpack's biggest win of the year, Keatts will have a clear, reliable leader for his young team to rally around.

One thing that could go wrong: N.C. State's lack of depth—and talent—are simply not enough to compete with the big boys in the ACC, as the Wolfpack flounder to a third straight sub-.500 season in conference play.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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