NC State

NC State basketball freshmen set to make Wolfpack debuts

N.C. State's Abdul-Malik Abu (0) poses during N.C. State basketball's media day on Oct. 1, 2014.
N.C. State's Abdul-Malik Abu (0) poses during N.C. State basketball's media day on Oct. 1, 2014.

Cody Martin is already nervous for N.C. State’s “Throwback with the Pack” at Reynolds Coliseum on Friday night.

“I get nervous before any game, no matter what” said Martin, a freshman guard.

“Throwback with the Pack,” is N.C. State’s version of “Midnight Madness.” It will start at 30 minutes after the completion of the volleyball match with North Carolina, which starts at 6:30 p.m.

There will be a legends game, with Chris Corchiani and Julius Hodge, before the current team has an intrasquad scrimmage.

By any name, preseason showcases are about the new guys, and Martin is one of three freshmen, along with twin brother Caleb and big man Abdul-Malik Abu, for coach Mark Gottfried this season.

The freshmen are in a unique situation, because the newcomer with the most attention, and pressure, is Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey.

The trio of freshmen, who were all ranked in the top 100 of the recruiting class by ESPN, have the luxury of coming in with the freedom to just be themselves and play their own games.

“We can all hold our own,” said Abu, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward. “We just want to help the team any way we can.”

Gottfried has to replace three starters from last year’s team which won 22 games and made the NCAA tournament for the third straight year.

Gottfried has lauded Abu’s natural talent, especially on the defensive end. Abu, ranked No. 32 in the class, is expected to help replace some of the minutes lost with the exit of 7-footer Jordan Vandenberg.

“You’re going to be impressed,” Cody Martin said of Abu. “He’s physical, and he knows how to protect the rim. He knows how to score too.”

Abu said it has been a challenge picking up Gottfried’s high-post offense.

“It’s very different,” Abu said. “I struggled at first, but every day I’m getting better.”

The wing rotation, with Lacey and senior Ralston Turner expected to start, and Desmond Lee back for his senior season, is more crowded, but both Martins have impressed Gottfried with their competitiveness.

Caleb Martin, a 6-7, 195 guard, underwent surgery for a broken bone in his right foot in June. He’s not quite 100 percent, he said, but he’s working on picking up the offense and getting up to full speed.

“I’m almost there; I’m almost 100 percent,” he said. “I don’t think I missed out on much. It’s just a matter of conditioning and getting into shape.”

Caleb, ranked No. 62 in the class by ESPN, is considered the better shooter of the twins and has the athletic ability to score in transition.

Cody, who is a 6-7, 200-pounds, is a resourceful guard who had a strong senior season at Oak Hill. He finished the season No. 91 in the ESPN top 100.

“It’s a good situation for us,” Caleb said. “We have a deep team and I think we can all contribute.”