Coming off a season where he averaged 9.3 points per game off the bench, redshirt junior guard Devon Daniels is hoping to show Wolfpack nation that he is a guy the team can rely on this year.
NC State head coach Kevin Keatts recruited Daniels from Utah and convinved him to leave the PAC-12 and come to the ACC. Per NCAA rules, Daniels had to sit out a year, which he did in the 2017-2018 season, before being eligible to suit up the next season.
The Battle Creek, Michigan native proved last year that he is one of the Wolfpack’s best defenders. He was third on the team in blocks and would often match up against the other team's best scorer when he was in the game.
On the offensive end, Daniels attacks the paint hard, getting defenders in foul trouble, and has an often underrated three-point shot, in which he shot at 31% last season.
Daniels showed some signs of promise in NC State’s exhibition game against Mount Olive in a starting role, scoring 20 points and grabbing six rebounds.
“I trust the coaches and my teammates,” Daniels said. “We’re all playing together out there and we’re not shooting many forced shots. If I just stick to what I am doing, I think we’re going to be good this year.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Daniels will be a starter this season for the Wolfpack. Expect him to get his chances to start early on in the campaign, as Keatts likes to play around with his starting five early on in the season.
Whether it is a starting role or a bench role like last year, Daniels will be a key player in determining if NC State can compete amongst the ACC’s best teams this year.
“We’re close and the chemistry is building,” Daniels said about this year's team. “We’re trusting in each other and the coaches more and I think that helps us a lot.”
With a strong backcourt including senior guard Markell Johnson, redshirt senior guard C.J. Bryce and junior guard Braxton Beverly, their presence along with Daniels has the potential to be one of top backcourts in the ACC. All of these guards have at least one year of experience in the ACC.
“When you are in college basketball, the best thing to do is to be old and stay old,” Keatts said. “I am excited to have veteran players at the guard position.”
The work motor for Daniels is evident in the way he plays the game, whether it’s hustling for a loose ball or fighting for a rebound. It makes a whole lot of sense why Keatts wanted him to transfer from Utah because he is the type of player that Keatts wants in his system. Daniels understands that these small things are important to winning games in the best conference in college basketball.
“We still have to work on getting back in transition and picking up the man,” Daniels said. “Little things like that make a big difference.”
Last season, Daniels scored his season high against Western Carolina with 21 points, and against Miami, Pittsburgh and Boston College, Daniels scored 19 points, which was his ACC season high.
With the regular season starting on Nov. 5 at 8:30 p.m. at home against Georgia Tech, Daniels and his teammates will look to avenge last year's loss to the Yellow Jackets and start the 2019-2020 season off with a bang.