Head coach Wes Moore yells at the team after poor defensive play during the 76-68 win over UNC in Reynolds Coliseum on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2020.

Wednesday, Nov. 11 was National Signing Day for prospective student-athletes, and plenty of high school students from the class of 2021 signed their letter of intent to represent NC State for their respective sport. 

Men’s basketball

NC State men’s basketball managed to snag three talented players yesterday. Ernest Ross is a 6-foot-9 power forward from Sante Fe High School in Alachua, Florida and was the No. 10 player in the state.

“Ernest Ross, for us, I give a lot of credit to my staff; they did a tremendous job going into the state of Florida and getting a really good combo forward that can play,” said head coach Kevin Keatts at the Nov. 12 media day. “Very skilled, long, athletic, can defend multiple positions, can step out and shoot it. By most publications, he’s a top-60 prospect in the country.”

Terquavion Smith is a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Farmville Central and was the No. 3 player in North Carolina. Smith led Farmville Central to a state championship in his sophomore year and was on pace to win another one in his junior year before COVID-19 canceled the season. 

“In today’s climate, for a young man to give your commitment as a sophomore and then two or three years later sign a scholarship, that says a lot about [Smith] and his family and how loyal he is to NC State,” Keatts said. “He is a bucket-getter; the kid can just score the basketball. Tremendous player that’s going to be really good for us at his size, going to be able to play some combo guard for us...Really excited about him.”

Rounding out the group is 6-foot combo guard Breon Pass from Reidsville High School, the No. 8 player in North Carolina. Pass played both basketball and football in high school, but will be focusing on basketball at NC State.

“Breon, I think, is the steal of our state,” Keatts said. “He’s also a combo guard who can really shoot the ball. He’s tough with that football background, has a little swagger about him. Very excited for him to join our program. It meant so much for this young man to be able to come to NC State...The kid’s going to be really good; he’s a winner.”

Women’s basketball

Not to be outdone, women’s basketball got a top-15 ranked recruiting class coming in next year. Aziaha James is a 5-foot-9 guard from Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She was player of the year in her high school conference this year, first-team all-conference the last two years and was the 36th-ranked recruit, according to ESPN’s HoopGurlz rankings. 

“I’m really pumped about it, Aziaha James...I think maybe she’s won four state championships at the 5A level,” said head coach Wes Moore at the Nov. 12 media day. “Left-handed...she’s a great player, some of the recruiting services have her ranked as high as 21st in the country. She can score in bunches, she can shoot deep and get to the rim and float and have some hang time about her. Just really exciting, she’s a competitor.”

Sophie Hart is a 6-foot-5 post player from Farmington High School in Farmington, Minnesota. Hart was first-team all-conference three times and helped her team win a share of the state title in 2020. Hart was ranked 64th nationally in the ESPN HoopGurlz rankings. 

“[Hart]’s the fourth-ranked post player, true post,” Moore said. “And that’s one of the things I love about her, she wants to be a post player. Nowadays, everybody wants to be a guard. I got [junior forward] Elissa Cunane wanting me to play her at point guard...but again, Sophie’s a kid that works very hard at it...knows how to run pretty well in transition.”

Last but not least is Jessica Timmons, a 5-foot-8 combo guard from Charlotte. She scored over 2,000 points in her career at North Mecklenburg High School and was a 2020 first-team all-state selection.

“Excited about getting one of the best players in the state, if not the best player,” Moore said. “All-state player, 45th ranked in the country but, again, a very fierce competitor, can shoot really deep 3s but can also get to the rim and finish with contact. She’s strong, she’s got a good body on her and so she’ll finish around the rim and get to the foul line...Probably could play the point some, will distribute the ball and sees the floor well. It’s a great group.”

Swimming and diving

Pack swimming and diving pulled off another huge class, getting verbal commitments from perhaps the best men’s swimming recruit in the class of 2021, and No. 3 overall in the Swimcloud College Swimming rankings: Aiden Hayes of Norman, Oklahoma.

Hayes wasn’t the only big fish NC State managed to reel out of the pond, as other highly touted high schoolers, like No. 5 Noe Ponti, No. 7-ranked Grace Shelbe, No. 25-ranked Annabel Crush, No. 20-ranked Sam Hoover, No. 23-ranked Arsenio Bustos, No. 28-ranked David Curtiss and No. 33 Garrett Boone, join Hayes as some of the highlights of the stacked incoming class.


Finally, NC State will see a few more wrestlers walk through the halls of Reynolds Coliseum. The most anticipated of whom is Stevo Poulin at 125 pounds, the No. 9 recruit across all weight classes in the country, according to OpenMat. 

Joining Poulin will be Joey Milano (No. 9 at 182 pounds), Skylar Smith (No. 76 nationally), Jake Null (No. 3 at 170 pounds), Brock DelSignore (No. 99 nationally, No. 14 at 195 pounds) and Derek Fields (No. 7 at 160 pounds).


NC State rifle has not announced information on its 2021 recruiting class. Keep an eye out for updates.