Primetime with the Pack
Young Wolfpack fans waited for Dennis Smith, Jr. in the hallway of Reynolds Coliseum.
While other N.C. State players signed autographs before Primetime with the Pack kicked off, the children cried, “Where’s Dennis? Can you go get Dennis.”
Turns out, there was plenty of Dennis to see.
Smith, the 6-foot-3 freshman point guard, dazzled in the red-and-white scrimmage Friday night to close the late-night event at the renovated site.
His Red team lost, 59-55, to the White, but he led all players with 12 points and five assists. Midway through the 20-minute scrimmage, he finished an alley-oop pass off the backboard — to himself — with a dunk for a 22-13 Red lead.
“It was just instinct,” Smith said of his high-flying basket. “I seen the opportunity; I had to snatch it.”
The highly-touted freshman enrolled at N.C. State in January to rehabilitate a knee injury. He and forward Omer Yurtseven highlight the Pack’s recruiting class. Yurtseven finished with six points and two assists, including one to Smith.
Smith flicked full-court passes and drove the lane with ease. One had to wonder how easy the White defense made it for him.
“We wanted to let the crowd know that we got the chosen one,” said junior forward Abdul-Malik Abu, who scored 10 points for the White team. “We wanted to let him show what he had. When it came gametime, though, we had to lock that up.”
N.C. State showed it’s personality both on and off the court, the players singing oldies, getting the entire crowd to “swag surf” and having a Beyonce standoff with the school’s dance team.
Coach Mark Gottfried went shirtless for his introduction, donning a boxing outfit in honor of heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, who attended.
State finished 16-17 last season and missed the tournament for the first time in Gottfried’s tenure.
He is excited about the group, especially with the inclusion of Smith.
“I think he’s one of those players,” Gottfried said. “He’s kind of electric. He’s such an attractor. Players want to play with him, fans want to watch him. I walk through airports, and people want to ask me about him. That’s kind of the way it is with him.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan