Half of N.C. State’s early entrants were invited to the NBA draft combine. Not surprisingly, the NBA wanted to get a closer look at guard Dennis Smith Jr., a projected lottery pick, and 7-footer Omer Yurtseven.
Both will have a chance to make an impression in Chicago on May 9-14. Guard Maverick Rowan and forward Ted Kapita were not among the 60 players invited, according to ESPN’s unofficial list.
Rowan has already decided to pursue a professional career and will not return to N.C. State. Kapita has not signed with an agent and has the ability to return for his sophomore season. Most players who are not invited to the combine, a baseline indicator of the NBA’s interest in a prospect, choose to return to school. Or he could follow Rowan’s path and hope to find a spot in an international pro league.
The NCAA gives underclassmen who have not signed with an agent until May 24 to return. The NBA draft is June 22.
Kapita, a 6-8, 219-pound forward who is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, had an interesting freshman season at N.C. State. He missed the first game of the season while the NCAA reviewed his amateur status. He was cleared by the NCAA on Nov. 11 and had 17 points and eight rebounds in first college game, an 86-61 win over St. Francis (N.Y.).
Then he missed three games in November in the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands due to a student visa issue.
Kapita’s minutes and production fluctuated throughout ACC play. In back-to-back games against Pitt and Wake Forest in January, he was healthy but didn’t play at all. The next game he had 14 points and 10 rebounds in N.C. State’s upset at Duke on Jan. 23.
In the 10 regular-season games after the Duke breakout, Kapita played single-digit minutes in half of those games. He did play 20 minutes in the ACC tournament loss to Clemson.
For the season, Kapita averaged 4.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He is not ranked among DraftExpress’s top 100 prospects.
In new coach Kevin Keatts’ pressing, up-tempo system, Kapita’s size and athletic ability would be a plus. Keatts is also running low on big men with Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman as the only other experienced forwards on the roster.
Yurtseven, a projected second-round pick, also has the potential to return since he has not officially signed with an agent.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio