NC State hasn’t had a presence at the center position since it signed J.J. Hickson in 2007. But Friday’s commitment from ESPN 100 big man BeeJay Anya (Gaithersburg, Md./DeMatha) ensures Mark Gottfried has a presence in the middle going forward.
Anya, the No. 32 overall player in the Class of 2013, also moves the Wolfpack to No. 9 in the class rankings.
As a junior, Anya accounted for 14.5 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks per game. The Pack’s potent post pitch (say that quickly) to Anya was straightforward. Although Gottfried is new to Raleigh, he had something to sell.
“Their pitch was Richard Howell and how well they helped him develop his body,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones said. “They involve their post players. Coach Gottfried’s only been there one year, and BeeJay saw what happened last year and that was promising. Being picked to win the ACC this year and in the top 10, BeeJay liked that.”
Anya has freakishly long arms, which allows him to play even bigger than his 6-9 height in the lane. Combine his reach with his athleticism and he can defend against taller kids with effectiveness. Six blocks per game gives you an indication of his commitment to that end of the floor.
The next step in the progression for Anya is consistency. He has turned in flashes of dominance with DeMatha and on the AAU circuit with Team Takeover. What he hasn’t done is put the pieces together and deliver multiple strings of command performances. But in the past year, he’s lost a ton of weight and that’s certainly going to help him going forward.
What’s nice about a pledge like this is that in addition to the basketball ability, Anya comes to NC State with a culture of winning already in his DNA. DeMatha wins. His AAU team wins. And Anya has been a part of USA Basketball’s winning tradition, not to mention a tradition of Stags to the Pack.
“If you look at NC State and DeMatha, they had Sidney Lowe, Dereck Whittenburg and Quentin Jackson,” Jones said. “There’s a tradition of DeMatha players going down there and doing well.”
There’s also a ton of DeMatha players tabbed to play in the ACC next year. The handshake line for Anya following games will be littered with familiar faces, including Quinn Cook at Duke, James Robinson at Pitt, Jerian Grant at Notre Dame and Jerami Grant at Syracuse.
Next year, however, the biggest of those Stags is set to become a frontcourt stud in Raleigh. NC State capped off its early signing period haul with a standout center, and his pledge will go a long way toward shoring up the Pack’s post play in the future.