North Carolina State will host Charleston Southern to tip off the season Wednesday in the Mako Medical Wolfpack Invitational, which also includes Eastern Kentucky and North Florida.
NC State has won all eight meetings in the series, most recently beating Charleston Southern 78-56 at home in Raleigh, N.C., on Nov. 12, 2017.
The Wolfpack, coming off their third consecutive 20-win season, are predicted to finish eighth in the ACC in a preseason media poll. NC State returns a trio of seniors in 6-foot-10 forward D.J. Funderburk, guard Devon Daniels and guard Braxton Beverly.
Funderburk, who averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season, and Daniels (12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds) each considered entering the NBA draft. Returning 6-11 sophomore forward Manny Bates led the ACC in blocked shots with 83.
NC State also has a group of six freshmen, led by guard Cam Hayes, a four-star prospect out of Greensboro, N.C.
Kevin Keatts, who is entering his fourth season as the Wolfpack’s coach, said he has his most versatile roster and could go 11-deep.
“I love our size, I love our versatility, I love our length,” Keatts said. “We just have to put it together. We’ve got a good bunch of veteran guys, but then, as every coach will point out to you, we’re really young with six freshmen that haven’t played before.”
The Bucs have their sights set on their own conference title, entering the season after being picked No. 3 in the Big South coaches poll.
“Right now our focus is not on polls but on getting better every day,” Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. “I think the poll reflects those teams in our league with a lot of returning players. Having said that, there isn’t a lot of difference between one and 11 in this league.”
Senior guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr. was the Big South’s Defensive Player of the Year and finished in the top 10 in the conference in nearly every statistical category. Fleming, who was chosen by the coaches as the conference’s preseason Player of the Year, averaged 17.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 blocks per game last season.
Deontaye Buskey, a senior, joins Fleming in the backcourt along with sophomore Travis Anderson, who was a Big South All-Freshman selection last season. Senior forward Ty Jones and redshirt freshman Terence Porter Jr., who missed the final 26 games of last season due to injury, lead Charleston Southern’s frontcourt.
–Field Level Media