NC State has a tradition of putting great basketball teams on the floor, and a few players have gone on to have successful careers in the NBA. Taking into account the past and present, NC State has churned out a draft class worth of NBA-level talents. So what would that draft class look like? And where would some of NC State’s best basketball players end up if they were drafted in 2020? After studying each individual’s career, we can look at where they might fit into today’s NBA.
The NC State men’s basketball team had an all-around rocky season, but went out on a high note by taking care of business against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the first round of the ACC Tournament. But what would have happened from there remains a mystery, as the remainder of the ACC Tournament, and the NCAA Tournament, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forward Josh Hall recently made the decision to forego his college eligibility and scholarship with the NC State Wolfpack by entering the 2020 NBA Draft. Hall originally committed to the Wolfpack in November alongside former Moravian Prep teammate, point guard Shakeel Moore. However, in March, Hall committed to the NBA Draft as an early entrant before hiring an agent, which made his decision to bypass college official.
The third year for the NC State men’s basketball team under head coach Kevin Keatts did not end the way anyone expected, as the college basketball season was cut short due to the spread of COVID-19.
Redshirt senior guard C.J. Bryce led the Wolfpack men’s basketball team this season in points per game with 12.8 and rebounds per game with 6.2, in what was arguably his best season to date. The 6-foot-5 guard, however, did not get to carry his strong regular season performance over to the postseason as the ACC and the NCAA tournaments were canceled due to COVID-19.
Senior guard Markell Johnson finished his career at NC State ranking 39th all-time in total points, third in assists and 10th in steals while averaging 9.6 points and 5.2 assists, missing out on a chance to leave the finishing touches on his mark at NC State. The 6-foot-1 floor general saw his and his entire team’s season abruptly ended in the middle of the ACC Tournament, and right before a potential NCAA Tournament appearance.
With the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Wolfpack nation may never know if the NC State men’s basketball team did enough in the closing weeks of the season to punch its ticket to the big dance. While that question will likely never be answered, there are a number of questions dating back to before the season that can be answered about this year’s team. Here are some of those questions and answers:
Without sports, many fans are turning to the sports video games to bring them joy in these desolate times. This time is also giving fans time to contemplate sports what-ifs and look back on the past, so I figured I would combine the two and see what happened if every college’s all-time best professional players played against each other in an 82-game season, and to see how the NC State Wolfpack would stack up against these teams.
In a previous article, I had mentioned that I thought NC State’s senior guard Markell Johnson was an NBA-caliber talent. I had talked about many of his strengths, including his ball-handling, ability to slither past opponents, passing acumen and knack for scoring in bunches. But it’s only fair that some of his weaknesses are addressed, because no player profile would be complete without them, and I’d be doing a disservice without at least mentioning them in passing. Fortunately, there’s a solution to Johnson’s most glaring flaw.