Wolfpack will be without injured Braxton Beverly to open the season

How is NC State point guard Braxton Beverly’s broken hand?

NC State basketball coach Kevin Keatts updates reporters on point guard Braxton Beverly's broken hand heading into the start of the 2018-19 season.
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NC State basketball coach Kevin Keatts updates reporters on point guard Braxton Beverly's broken hand heading into the start of the 2018-19 season.

Though Braxton Beverly had successful surgery to repair his broken hand on Tuesday, N.C. State will open the season without its sharp-shooting sophomore guard.

N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said Wednesday early indications are Beverly will miss part of the Wolfpack’s non-conference schedule.

“I had a great conversation with him last night,” Keatts said from the ACC’s Operation Basketball event at the Spectrum Center. “We talked. He was in great spirits. I know you guys will want a timetable. I would say I’m probably looking at the middle of nonconference. There’s a chance that he may be back earlier than that. If I could find a way to get him on the court before that time I would love to.”

The Wolfpack have one exhibition, Monday against Chowan at PNC Arena, before opening the season at home on Nov. 6 with Mount St. Mary’s.

ACC-Big Ten Challenge

After playing home games with Maryland-Eastern Shore (Nov. 10), UNC Asheville (Nov. 13), Maine (Nov. 17), St. Peter’s (Nov. 20) and Mercer (Nov. 24), N.C. State’s toughest nonconference games come next.

The ACC-Big Ten Challenge game is at Wisconsin on Nov. 27 and the Wolfpack plays Vanderbilt in Miami at the Hoop Hall Classic on Dec. 1.

Beverly averaged 9.5 points and 3.9 assists per game as a freshman last season for N.C. State when he alternated between the point guard and shooting guard positions. He was second on the team with 60 3-pointers, so his deep shooting threat will be missed.

“He was playing great basketball,” Keatts said. “He was shooting the ball well. I hate just to call him a shooter because he’s more than that. But he can make things easier on other people because he stretches the defense.”

So the Wolfpack will likely play most, if not all, of November without Beverly. Last season, that would have been a big problem since N.C. State’s thin bench only featured Beverly, Markell Johnson and Sam Hunt as ball-handling guards. Allerik Freeman and Torin Dorn were small forwards who looked to score.

But this season, Keatts has transfers C.J. Bryce, Devon Daniels, Blake Harris and Eric Lockett eligible in addition to Johnson.

“If we had anything on this roster this year, we have a bunch of guards,” Keatts said. “Where we are lacking is his ability to make shots. Before he got hurt he was shooting the ball really well. It won’t change our rotation much. Some guys will play a few more minutes than I expected.”

Blake Harris

Harris played point guard at Missouri last season before transferring to N.C. State after the fall semester. He didn’t play during the spring semester at N.C. State, but the NCAA granted him an immediate eligibility waiver allowing him to be eligible at the start of this season rather than only for the spring semester.

That decision looms even more important now in light of Beverly’s injury.

“Blake is doing well,” Keatts said. “He is adjusting to N.C. State and the way I want him to play. We have several guys who will be able to fill in for him. I played Braxton at the 1 and 2 and most of the guys we have our combo guys. Hopefully we’ll be able to survive until he gets back.”

N.C. State has two power 5 conference teams on its December nonconference slate in Penn State on Dec. 15 at Atlantic City, N.J., and Auburn at home on Dec. 19. There appears to be a chance Beverly could play in those games.

N.C. State opens ACC play Jan. 3 at Miami.

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NC State basketball coach Kevin Keatts talks with reporters after learning of the verdict in a college basketball corruption trial. Keatts spoke to reporters at ACC Operation Basketball in Charlotte, NC Wednesday, Oct. 24. 2018.