Former members of the NC State men’s and women’s basketball teams are enjoying plenty of success in 2021. Outside of T.J. Warren’s unfortunate injury, players like Dennis Smith Jr., Aislinn Konig, Cat Barber and C.J. Williams are getting huge opportunities to showcase their skills at the next level. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some updates to former members of the Pack.
T.J. Warren, small forward, Indiana Pacers (NBA)
After taking the NBA world by storm in 2020’s NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Warren’s been limited to just four games this season. Unfortunately for the Pacers, Warren was ruled out for the season in March, leaving Indiana without one of its top scorers.
Warren averaged 15.5 points per game on 52.9% shooting from the floor in his four appearances this season.
Dennis Smith Jr., point guard, Detroit Pistons (NBA)
A tumultuous tenure with the Dallas Mavericks sent then-21-year-old Dennis Smith Jr. from Dallas to the New York Knicks in just his second season. Now, Smith at age 23 is on his third team since being selected ninth overall in the 2017 NBA draft. The Detroit Pistons acquired Smith from New York in exchange for one-time MVP Derrick Rose before the 2021 trade deadline.
Smith’s time in New York was even shakier than his time in Dallas, and personal reasons paired with a glut of young guards on the Knicks kept Smith at the end of the bench. Toward the end of his career in New York, Smith humbled himself and willingly went to the G League bubble in Orlando, Florida to hone his skills.
Now, Smith is getting a chance to show his skills on a rebuilding Pistons team, averaging 7.3 points per game with Detroit.
It’s undeniable that Smith is still very much a work in progress, but the Pistons are at a point in which they can take risks. Look no further than Josh Jackson, the player taken fourth overall in Smith’s draft class. Jackson is enjoying a career resurgence in Detroit, playing his way into at least another NBA contract. Smith will look to do the same and has already flashed what made him such a tantalizing prospect. Just 11 games into his Pistons career, Smith posted a triple-double while picking up three steals.
Cody and Caleb Martin, forwards, Charlotte Hornets (NBA)
After impressing in their rookie seasons, the Martin twins are continuing to improve and become steady contributors at the NBA level. Cody is currently averaging 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per game while Caleb is averaging five points and 2.8 rebounds per contest. While those numbers don’t jump off the page, the pair is combining for over 30 minutes per game for a winning Hornets squad.
Kiara Leslie and Aislinn Konig, guards, Washington Mystics (WNBA)
The Mystics must’ve liked what they saw from Leslie after selecting her with the 10th pick of the 2019 WNBA draft because they doubled down on NC State guards by signing Konig to a training camp contract. While Konig’s roster spot is not guaranteed, Konig figures to have a decent shot at cracking the final roster.
In Switzerland, Konig averaged a whopping 21.4 points per game while shooting 48.1% from distance before Eurocup. In Eurocup, Konig averaged 16.2 points in five games.
Omer Yurtseven, center, Oklahoma City Blue (NBA G League)
Though Yurtseven didn’t finish his collegiate career at NC State, he still spent two seasons in Raleigh and was one of the most important cogs of the 2017-18 Wolfpack, the last time NC State made the NCAA Tournament.
After transferring to Georgetown, Yurtseven went undrafted in the 2020 draft, signing an Exhibit-10 deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder before promptly being sent to the G League. Yurtseven gained many fans during the draft process, confidence in him that ultimately paid off with a dazzling performance in the G League bubble.
In 14 games, Yurtseven averaged 15.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 61.7% from the floor and 38.1% from deep in just over 21 minutes per contest.
Team Wolf Blood, The Basketball Tournament
For the first time ever, NC State fans will get to watch a team participate in TBT, otherwise known as The Basketball Tournament. TBT typically features alumni of the NCAAas they form teams to compete for a money prize.
In an appearance on Inside TBT, former Pack guard C.J. Williams confirmed that he was forming a team alongside other NC State alumni to compete in TBT. Williams will be joined by Cat Barber, Trevor Lacey, Scott Wood, Richard Howell, Torin Dorn and Dez Lee.
Williams played at NC State from 2008-12, going undrafted in the 2012 NBA draft but earning NBA opportunities with the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves. His most recent professional stint in the Americas came with the Long Island Nets of the G League in the 2019-20 season. This year, Williams played nine games with Pau-Orthez of the French Jeep Elite, averaging 9.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
2021 has been good to Barber, who’s spent time with two overseas teams this year. Furthermore, Barber recently got a chance to participate in the FIBA AmeriCup, qualifying tournament after he cracked a star-studded 14-man roster. Barber joined NBA legend Joe Johnson on the roster, as well as fan-favorite Isaiah Thomas, recent NBA players in Treveon Graham and Dakota Mathias, current New Orleans Pelican James Nunnally and others.
Barber’s best performance in the tournament came against Mexico, against whom he recorded seven points, five assists and two steals.
Lacey spent time in Raleigh in the 2014-15 season after transferring from Alabama. Lacey never crept into the NBA but spent time with the Wisconsin Herd of the G League in the 2019-20 season. Lacey is currently averaging 15.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists for the Rostock Seawolves of German Pro A.
Howell and Wood both played at NC State from 2009-13, with both going undrafted in the 2013 NBA draft. Both players were fan favorites in Raleigh, leading the Pack to a magical Sweet 16 run in the 2011-12 season, which saw upsets over San Diego State and Georgetown.
Howell is currently playing in Israel, where he also spent time from 2015-19, while Wood isn’t playing professionally at the moment but most recently played in Spain.
Dorn is the most recent alumnus of NC State, where he played from 2016-19 after transferring from Charlotte. Dorn was a huge part of some exciting games in the NIT in the 2018-19 season and put up 34 points in his last game as a member of the Pack. In the 2019-20 professional season, Dorn averaged 11.5 points per game in Poland.
Lee is the first member of the team to not be included on the announcement roster, joining the team on Tuesday, April 20. After playing with NC State from 2013-15, Lee became an integral piece of the St. John’s Edge of NBL Canada. In the 2018-19 season, Lee averaged 15.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game and actually played alongside former NBA champion Glen Davis and fellow NC State alum Ted Kapita.
According to Williams, the team is also trying to add Lorenzo Brown. Brown played at NC State from 2010-13, getting selected 52nd overall in the 2013 NBA draft and playing with the Philadelphia 76ers, Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors across his NBA career.
This and that
Several recent Pack graduates are getting a chance to show off their skills in the professional scene. Markell Johnson is playing in Turkey, averaging 6.9 points and 3.9 assists per game, while Pat Andree is playing in Portugal. Eric Lockett is averaging 14.6 points per game in Britain while C.J. Bryce recently participated in the 2021 G League draft process.