NCB On The Trail: North Carolina State Wolfpack

Roundtable: ESPN 100 commit predictions 

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
The ESPN 100 has just three remaining uncommitted prospects, and the competition remains furious for their services.

Myles Turner, No. 2 in the ESPN 100, leads the way, followed by No. 94 Elijah Stewart, who was released from his letter of intent to Loyola Marymount following the firing of coach Max Good, and No. 98 Josh Cunningham.

Devonte Graham wasn’t ESPN 100 eligible by virtue of his post-graduate status, but there is no denying he is a wanted man after receiving his release from Appalachian State. He will take official visits to Kansas and North Carolina State while also considering Virginia, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Providence.

So where are these remaining four prospects headed? No one knows for sure just yet, but here are a few educated guesses:

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Scouting the country each year I’ll not only see players’ skills, athletic ability and basketball IQ, but I’ll also witness their character along the way. This year’s class might not have any NBA superstars at the moment, but it will have difference-makers for the college game, both in the short term as well as those who will make a difference in time because of their character traits combined with their talent.

As we wrap up the Class of 2014, here are my five final thoughts:

1. The land of the giants

[+] EnlargeJahlil Okafor
AP Photo/The Sun News/Charles SlateDuke center signee Jahlil Okafor finishes the season as the nation's top prospect.
When you look at the top of a class it's so rare to have three post players sitting in the top three spots. Jahlil Okafor, who held the top spot for much of the season, finishes the season as the nation’s top prospect. The center from Chicago is a dominating presence in the paint. A Duke signee, Okafor led his high school team to a 4A state championship and was named the McDonalds Morgan Wooten player of the year.

He is special because he scores down low in the paint with his back to the basket. His combination of size, touch and fluid footwork is too much for one defender and when he doesn’t score, he attracts a double-team, which gives his team an advantage. He operates with patience and poise and when he reads the double-team he will accurately pass out to the open man. Defensively he guards the post and is improving at ball-screen defense as he is a barrier to the rim for his team.

Myles Turner, the nation’s No. 2 prospect, challenged hard for the No. 1 position and shows a big upside. Turner, who is uncommitted, is an elite shot-blocker and scores baskets with a soft touch and range. Cliff Alexander is going to be an absolute difference-maker for Kansas with his ability to rebound, finish and block shots, and he does it in an aggressive manner. Trey Lyles is one of the most skilled post players in this group and his future teammate at Kentucky Karl Towns Jr. has franchise skill-to-size ratio. Thomas Welsh is a fundamentally sound big who will anchor the middle at UCLA.

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The finish line was already in site in February when we last updated our ESPN 100 rankings. After watching many of these prospects for the better part of the past four years, the evaluation process was no longer about learning new things as much as it was monitoring recent developments.

As a result, our most recent and final version of the 2014 ESPN 100 bears a resemblance to its predecessor, except for a select few prospects who seized their opportunity to make one lasting impression.

With that in mind, here are the players whose stock rose the most in the final ESPN 100 of the 2014 class.

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NEW YORK -- The Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament crowned a champion on Saturday at Madison Square Garden with a familiar name as Montverde Academy (Fla.) won its second straight title, this time 71-62 over Oak Hill Academy (Va.). Over the six-year history of this prestigious event, this was the deepest field of teams and the highest level of talent from top to bottom. Montverde came in ranked as the No. 1 high school team in the country and should walk away in that top spot when the polls are finalized.

As the final high school team event of the 2013-14 season, let's take a look at five things we learned from this year's tournament:

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#AskCoachB: Vandenberg to NBA?

December, 10, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

Jordan Vandenberg is playing as well as ever in his career as a fifth-year senior. His defense is helping NC State to a four game winning streak since he returned to the lineup from a high ankle sprain suffered five minutes into the first exhibition this year. He defends the rim and has helped the defensive rebounding category quite a bit as well, pulling down 6.5 rbg. Vandenberg is running the floor greater than ever before in transition with most of his scores coming from plays at the rim for dunks. He is averaging 8.8 points a game and shooting 70 percent from the floor because most of his baskets come from lob catches at the rim and tip-ins/put backs on missed shots. Occasionally he will make a back to the basket move and end up at the free throw line. Speaking of the free throw line, he is only converting at 50 percent.

He is intriguing because of his size (7-foot-1) but most of his game does not translate to the NBA level as an investment pick in the first round. But the NBA scouts are now attending his games to see if he is someone that they could possibly draft in the second round or invite into a camp as a free agent. If none of the above happens he will have a chance to go overseas and play professionally.

#AskCoachB: Is NC State on the rise?

November, 19, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

Mark Gottfried certainly has brought a new level of excitement to Raleigh. The recruiting efforts by the Wolfpack have been strong since Gottfried took over at State as they have had nationally ranked classes.

With only one senior on the roster in 7-foot-1 center Jordan Vandenberg and another impressive class coming in next year, it could get real exciting, especially if super-scoring sophomore forward T.J. Warren stays. Don't forget -- Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey is sitting out and will be eligible next year, and the staff is high on him.

More help is on the way with a highly rated group coming in. NC State's 2014 class stands at No. 21 in our class rankings. The player I look for to be a big part of next year's success is power forward Abdul-Malik Abu. He will come in and make a difference in the paint because of his live body, skill and mature approach to the game.

This is a growing year for the Pack. Yes, I do believe next year could be a special year in Raleigh.

NC State class is signed and sealed

November, 14, 2013
NC State coach Mark Gottfried announced the signing of his 2014-15 recruiting class on Thursday, which includes two ESPN 100 prospects.

Making it official for the Wolfpack were ESPN 100 PF Abdul-Malik Abu (Boston/Kimball Union), ESPN 100 SF Caleb Martin (Mocksville, N.C./Oak Hill) and his twin brother, four-star SF Cody Martin (Mocksville, N.C./Oak Hill).

"We're really excited about this class. With two perimeter players and a versatile, inside-outside forward. We feel we really addressed some needs," Gottfried said. "All three guys play with great energy and enthusiasm. But also, they all have great character and will be great assets to NC State University.

"We think all three players will have great careers in our program."

Notebook: Bruins host big visitor 

September, 20, 2013
Truth? It’s not a big campus visited weekend. Take a look at the pedestrian football schedule and you’ll see what I mean. However, there are a few stragglers on campus this weekend, some of which are crucial to a few programs this year and next.

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Top 10 schools with recruiting momentum 

September, 18, 2013
The recruiting game is predicated on momentum. Win a title, and you get a bump with recruits. Put a dearth of guys in the NBA, and the players notice. The last few weeks we've looked at the programs that signed the most Top 100 players and most Top 25 players in past five seasons. This time around, we went with momentum.

By looking at the current senior high school class (2014) and who signed last year (2013), we were able to figure out which programs are the hottest in terms of their appeal to recruits. Obviously, this number is dynamic, since not all ESPN 100 members in the Class of 2014 have committed.

Most Top 100 players 2013-14

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Starting 5: Official visit season 

September, 10, 2013
Each week, Starting 5 takes you on a tour of the recruiting landscape. It delves into topics, recruiting trends and stories. This edition focuses on the art of the official visit, new Louisville recruit Jaylen Johnson, an important recruit for NC State and more.

1. The art of the official visit

By now you might be aware that America's best recruits are making their rounds, hitting up campuses for their official visits. For months, staffs have been debating internally when to bring a player to campus. It's actually a pretty dicey dilemma.

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North Carolina State pulled off a major coup in landing ESPN 100 prospect Abdul-Malik Abu, one of the nation's most improved power forwards. The 41st-ranked prospect in the 2014 class chose the Wolfpack over Florida, Connecticut and Providence. He took official visits to Florida and NC State, then made his decision.

Abu and longtime travel teammate Jared Terrell (Weymouth, Mass./Brewster Academy), announced their decisions side by side at a Saturday afternoon news conference. Terrell, an ESPN 100 shooting guard, picked Oklahoma State.

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ESPN 100 shooting guard Jared Terrell (Weymouth, Mass./Brewster Academy) made a verbal commitment to Oklahoma State on Saturday. Terrell and longtime travel teammate, Abdul-Malik Abu (Marblehead, Mass./Kimball Union), announced their decisions side by side at a Saturday afternoon news conference. Abu picked North Carolina State.

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Notes: Cartwright could be double value 

September, 6, 2013
This time of the year, there's always something brewing. From campus visits to the value of Stanford's newest pledge, we've dumped out the notebook into a nice, tidy column to catch you up.

Cartwright's value could be two-fold

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The adidas Invitational is in its fifth year of competition and boasts a notable list of alums, headlined by recent NBA first-round picks Andre Drummond, Cody Zeller and Shabazz Muhammad. This year’s event began on Wednesday and will conclude on Sunday with the championship game, which will air live on ESPNU at 2 p.m. ET.

Thursday marked the first full day of competition and the players’ intensity was apparent from the start, with top-10 junior Stephen Zimmerman and Florida recruit Brandone Francis among the day’s elite performers.

Here’s a look at who stood out among the star-studded list of participants on Thursday.

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Notebook: ESPN 100 recruiting updates 

June, 28, 2013

This week’s Friday recruiting notebook is chock full of updates on ESPN 100 prospects, including commitments for Florida and Louisville, a visitor for Michigan State, what’s next for North Carolina, who NC State is targeting and why No. 10 recruit Myles Turner continues to improve his stock.

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