New Head Basketball Coach Kevin Keatts takes over a very proud NC State program. This proud program has won 2 NCAA National championships, been to 5 Final Fours, won 13 regulars season conference titles and made 26 NCAA Tournament appearances. In fact, under previous Head Coach Mark Gottfried, NC State had appeared in 4 of the previous 6 NCAA Tournaments with two Sweet 16 Appearances.

Keatts himself is no stranger to college basketball success. In his three seasons as the Head Coach at UNC-Wilmington, Keatts finished first (either outright or tied) in the CAA all three seasons. He made two NCAA tournament appearances and finished with a 72-28 overall record (72%). Keatts was also an assistant coach at Louisville during their 2013 run to the NCAA National Champion.

The last two seasons were counted as a hiccup for the program. Over the two year period they finished 31-34 overall, going 9-27 in the ACC finishing in 13th place both seasons.

Keatts inherits a roster that is filled with talent. He has a 5-star player (in Omer Yurtseven), 3 4-stars and 4 3-stars. In his first recruiting class, Keatts also brought in a 4-start prospect in Lavar Batts. He currently has two transfers sitting out, former 4-star transfer from Utah Devan Daniels and reigning CAA Player of the Year CJ Bryce.

This team has a lot more going for it than many are giving it credit for…

Who Will Man the Point Guard'

This team is deep with wings and forward. Especially with the way Keatts plays, there are a lot of players to fit what he does, and provide depth and multiple looks. On paper, the only position of question may be the point guard spot. This is not to say the cupboard is bare, Keatts has a lot of talent at the point guard spot, the question comes because that talent is young. 4-star recruit Lavar Batts is probably the most talented player, but he was play 3A basketball at this time last year. Markell Johnson will probably get the first crack at it, but he is more of a true combo guard. There are also questions about true freshman Braxton Beverly’s eligibility after he transferred to NC State after Thad Matta was fired at Ohio State.

With the questions surrounding Beverly, there will be a lot of time that sees both Johnson and Batts on the floor at the same time. This, without question, has the potential to form the fastest guard duo in the conference and one of the fastest in the nation. How quickly Batts catches up to the speed of the college game may go a long way in determining the success of this team.

How Will the Up-Tempo System Play to the Roster
It is no secret Keatts wants to bring his up-tempo, fast paced system to NC State with him. Last year, the Keatts led UNC-Wilmington team was 11th in the nation in scoring putting up 84.8 points per game and shot 48% (as a team) from the field. He has the talent and roster in place to implement this system. Naturally with them playing this up-tempo pace they will thrive with a smaller line up.

Look for players such as Torin Dorn and Al Freeman to be playing in a 4-man role some. Lennard Freeman is back and you can tell he has worked on his body. He is tough around basket, both finishing and rebounding. I’m not sure you could have hand crafted a player to fit Keatts system better than Malik Abu. With his ability to run and jump, he could have the type of year Devonte Cacock did for UNC Wilmington last year. In Freeman and Abu, NC State has two anchors in the paint.

Sam Hunt brings a great element of scoring the basketball to this team. He has a lot of ability in the mid range and from the deep 3. As we mentioned above, there will be times that Batts and Johnson are on the floor together. Look for those times to be going at break neck speed.

How Will Omer Yertseven Fit In'
Turkish born and raised Omer Yertseven came in to NC State with a lot surrounding him. The 5-star recruit also announced for the NBA draft last year, only to not sign with an agent. Watching Yertseven play, he has a load of talent. To go along with his 6’9” size, he has good ball skills and touch, with range from beyond the arc and into the mid range. The question with Yertseven will be his toughness and attitude toward the system. Will he buy in'

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