First off, Engin Atsur began the Preliminary Rounds of the World Championships last night with the Turkey National Team, and the 6-foot-4 combo guard exploded for 37 in an opening round loss to Australia. We've heard that he's a GREAT scorer and should continue to put up good numbers in this tournament because the ball will be in his hands. Don't forget, coaches like Rick Barnes and Paul Hewitt also offered this kid a full scholarship, so don't worry about the lack of recruiting hype. Atsur has a great overall floor game and should contribute right away!
Ilian Evtimov appears on track to return from his ACL injury and if he can at full strength then it looks like he will once again play the five spot for the Wolfpack. He started late in his freshman year over Josh Powell at the position and some have suggested that his return played a part in Powell's decision to stay in the draft.
Incoming freshman Mike O'Donnell made his move to Raleigh last week and has already played in a couple of Chavis League games. Last night he was a perfect 5-5 from the field with 4 3-pointers. The smallish point guard does all the little things and I think he's going to be a nice sleeper signee for the Wolfpack.
Speaking of the Chavis League, it looks like Levi Watkins, Marcus Melvin, or Tony Bethel will not be playing this year. Melvin is currently at the ABCD camp as a counselor and the other two are working out individually to get ready for next season.
Look for Julius Hodge to make the Pan-American team... the word I am hearing is that he's a "lock." Hopefully Jules will get some good experience and exposure on the national level. It could only help the program.
On the recruiting front, we think there "could" be some big news coming out shortly, as rumors are circulating that the Wolfpack could be receiving a verbal over the next month or so. Garner combo forward James Mays really likes the Wolfpack and a firm offer is on the table, so he's a guy to definitely keep an eye on through August.
With the remaining scholarship, it appears the top targets are down to New York SF Gavin Grant and Charlotte Swingman Anthony Morrow. Both players are very solid and would fit the N.C. State system nicely. Grant is the bigger and stronger prospect while Morrow is a better shooter and scorer. Each have offers and it looks to be a "first-to-commit" scenario.
IF the Wolfpack can land Mays and one of Grant/Morrow to go with Tony Bethel and Cedric Simmons, it could potentially be the best Herb Sendek class (from top-to-bottom) during his tenure. It would include a two-year Big East starter in Bethel, a top-30 prospect (Simmons), and two top 75-100 kids (Mays and Grant/Morrow). Overall, a very good class if it comes to be, but in recruiting things can change in the blink of an eye!
Eligibility question marks are always a hot topic during this time of the year because current players are in summer school getting ready for the upcoming season. There are a couple of players who are in summer school working to get eligible and those are Terance Chapman and Alan Halloway. Both should be able to play this Fall and it's looking good for both. I've heard that Sheldon Lewin will be fine (again that's just my sources) and Richard Washington "should be fine" as well. If everything goes as planned, we'll be ready opening day.
Rumors are flying (and so are the emails to me) that WR Chris Murray may be returning to the Wolfpack. I can't confirm or deny these rumors except to say that they can't be squashed right now, meaning there's something to the story, but it's too early to tell how things will play out. If he can get his priorities in order, Murray can help N.C. State, and we hope for his sake that he does because he's a great talent.
In recruiting, I have confirmed, through Hargrave Head Football Coach Robert Prunty, that NCSU signee Darrell Blackman will prep at Hargrave next season. Also attending Hargrave are ex-NCSU targets Brandon Setzer, Blake Merritt, and Terry Hunter. The prep school is holding a Media Day August 21, and StateFans is scheduled to attend. Coach Prunty informed me that there are five prospects at Hargrave that NC State is interested in and I'll be able to get those names at the Media Day.
Early on, it appears the Wolfpack's top targets at Quarterback are Xavier Lee, Graham Harrell, Brent Schaeffer, and Alex Mortensen. The first three are claiming Wolfpack offers, but Mortensen's dad, ESPN's Chris Mortensen, would not confirm or deny a Wolfpack offer, just stating interest is "very high" between both parties. From looking at all the information I have, I would be happy with any of the four, but I can't get over Lee's physical attributes. With that being said, hopefully the Wolfpack can land one of those great quarterbacks.
It looks like Demario Pressley is going to be a long recruiting battle. With each recruiting article, every word is analyzed and every author is questioned...and it's only July! Let's just watch how this plays out because I've had several sources suggest that "DP" is very interested in NC State and they could in fact lead at the moment. Considering all I know, I do think the signature from the nation's #1 Defensive Tackle will go to either NC State or UNC. One can only wonder how important this season is for both NC State AND UNC on the recruiting trail.
I just wanted to point out again that as fans we shouldn't get concerned with numbers regarding each position because the staffs (at all schools) know what they are doing. Just because on the surface we signed 1-2 Defensive Tackles last year (Tank and Lucas) doesn't mean that we under-recruited the position. Martrel Brown and Raymond Brooks could, and more than likely will, grow into the position. Gerard Miller, Lemarte McGhee, and Javier Estopinan are all prospects that could end up being Defensive Tackles at the next level, although they are listed otherwise right now. So let's not worry about positions because it generally all plays out.
Speaking of Lemarte McGhee, much has been said about him running a 5.81 at the UNC football camp. I've been told that he was one of the more impressive prospects at the NC State football camp and they are very pleased with his commitment, so don't worry about that too much. He looks good on film, has the frame to grow, and will likely be a HUGE Defensive Tackle in college anyways. If some analysts want to downgrade him based on alleged numbers at a rival's football camp, then so be it. We'll gladly be happy with his verbal and others can be happy without it. ESPN's Tom Lemming didn't call him the "best athlete in the state" for nothing.
That's it for this time, and look for "The Scoop" to pop up again over the next couple of weeks!
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