After N.C. State fans settle in for “Primetime with the Pack” on Friday night, and check out all the new bells and whistles at Reynolds Coliseum, they’re going to need a roster.
N.C. State has a lot of new faces for coach Mark Gottfried’s sixth season. The Wolfpack officially lists 17 players on the roster – eight of them weren’t on campus at this point last year.
“We’re deeper and hopefully that’s something we can take advantage of this year and more than we have in years past,” Gottfried said.
There are six new freshmen, led by point guard Dennis Smith Jr., and two new transfers. Fans will be eager to get a look at Smith (No. 4) and forward Omer Yurtseven (No. 14), the stars of the recruiting class, at Friday’s scrimmage.
There’s a curiosity factor about the building, too, after a $35 million renovation. The basketball team will take the floor after the conclusion of N.C. State’s volleyball match with Syracuse, which starts at 6 p.m.
The deep roster is in contrast to last year’s. N.C. State had eight healthy, eligible scholarship players last year after senior guard Terry Henderson injured his ankle in the first half of the season opener.
The short numbers caught up to Gottfried last season as N.C. State finished 16-17 and out of the NCAA tournament for the first time in his tenure.
When leading scorer Cat Barber left for the NBA in March, and twins Caleb and Cody Martin transferred to Nevada, N.C. State looked like it might be short-handed again.
But Gottfried and his revamped staff were able to add Yurtseven, forward Darius Hicks, forward Ted Kapita and guard Markell Johnson late in the recruiting cycle.
Smith, projected to be one of the top picks in the next NBA draft, enrolled last January to rehabilitate a knee injury.
Guard Spencer Newman was also added as a preferred walk-on. Cameron Gottfried, Gottfried’s son, transferred over the summer from Siena, and Tucker Thompson was added as a transfer from Western Carolina.
The younger Gottfried has to sit out this season under NCAA rules but Thompson is eligible. Both the younger Gottfried and Thompson are walk-ons.
We’re definitely a little more versatile. We can play big, we can play small.
N.C. State basketball coach Mark Gottfried
The NCAA limit for scholarships is 13 and this is the first time in coach Gottfried’s six seasons that N.C. State has 12 players on scholarship. The increased numbers do help in practice. There were points last year – with Henderson injured, Freeman hobbled and Smith still on the mend – when going 5-on-5 was difficult.
That’s not the case anymore. Intensity in practice has picked up, Henderson said.
“You have no choice but to go hard,” the senior guard said.
With 17 players, there’s an influx of energy and possibilities.
“We’re definitely a little more versatile,” Gottfried said. “We can play big, we can play small.”
While N.C. State waits to hear from the NCAA on the eligibility status of Yurtseven, who played for a club team in Turkey, and Kapita, who’s originally from the Congo, Gottfried expects to go with a smaller lineup with four guards and junior forward Abdul-Malik Abu.
When Yurtseven and Kapita are back, the Wolfpack could go with a jumbo lineup.
Gottfried is not sure how it will all shake it out, but he’s happy to have more options this season.
“Guys have to compete with one another for playing time, and I think that’s always a good thing,” Gottfried said.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
Primetime with the Pack
Where: Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh
When: After the conclusion of the volleyball match between N.C. State and Syracuse, which starts at 6 p.m.
Note: All tickets have already been claimed for the event.