N.C. State guard Caleb Martin figured he was in for a pep talk after an injury sidelined fellow starter Terry Henderson in the opening minutes of the season opener.
But what Martin didn’t expect was the source of the motivational speech.
“Terry was like, ‘Let’s go, I need you,’” Martin said. “He has done a great job getting me hyped and ready.”
Martin led the Wolfpack (1-1) with 19 points in a win over South Alabama on Sunday and will be counted on again in Wednesday’s home game against IUPUI.
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After two games, Martin is the Wolfpack’s leading scorer with a 20.0 average. The sophomore wing from Mocksville averaged 4.8 per game last season in a reserve role.
“My whole mindset is to just try and stay aggressive,” Martin said. “My teammates believe in me in filling that role.”
N.C. State relied on Trevor Lacey (15.7 points per game) and Ralston Turner (12.8 ppg) last season for perimeter scoring. Henderson, a transfer from West Virginia, was supposed to help offset their exits. Henderson averaged 11.7 points per game as a sophomore at West Virginia and made 89 3-pointers in two seasons.
We were counting on Terry (Henderson) in a big way but life moves on. We’re not going to pout about it.
NC State coach Mark Gottfried
But Henderson injured the ligaments in his right ankle in last Friday’s loss to William & Mary and will be out for six to eight weeks.
Martin was already in the starting lineup and knew coach Mark Gottfried was counting on him to do more this season. Henderson’s injury just made Martin’s role even more important, especially from the 3-point line.
Through two games, Martin has been N.C. State’s best deep threat, going 9 of 16 from the 3-point line. He tweaked his shooting form in the offseason. A righty, his release point was drifting to his left ear, instead of above his right eye.
“I took a little hitches out of it,” Martin said. “I feel like I got a little more flow to more it.”
Freshman Maverick Rowan replaced Henderson in the starting lineup against South Alabama and will probably stay there for the foreseeable future. Rowan scored 15 points in his first college start and had 16 against William & Mary.
Rowan chose N.C. State late in the recruiting process, in August after moving up his high school graduation, because he thought he had a chance to have a big role on an NCAA tournament team.
Rowan played 34 minutes in the opener and 26 against South Alabama. He was slowed some by foul trouble, with four in each game.
N.C. State started the season with nine eligible scholarship players on the roster. Henderson leaves them with eight. Gottfried used a seven-man rotation against South Alabama with freshman wing Shaun Kirk not checking into the game until the final minute.
Gottfried said Kirk was a “little behind” the other perimeter players.
“He still has to learn what we’re doing a little bit,” Gottfried said.
Gottfried was hopeful that Martin, Rowan and Cody Martin would be able to soak up Henderson’s minutes and production.
“It’s hard to replace a guy like Terry,” Gottfried said. “We were counting on Terry in a big way but life moves on. We’re not going to pout about it.”
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio