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CJ Bryce, transfer from UNCW, picks NC State

C.J. Bryce, right, decided on Saturday to transfer to N.C. State, where his former UNCW coach is now the head coach.
C.J. Bryce, right, decided on Saturday to transfer to N.C. State, where his former UNCW coach is now the head coach. AP

C.J. Bryce figures he will be busy at N.C. State, even though he can’t play in the upcoming college basketball season.

Bryce, who announced he will transfer to N.C. State on Saturday, will be the only player on the Wolfpack roster familiar with new coach Kevin Keatts and his up-tempo system.

“I can help out a lot,” Bryce said.

Bryce helped Keatts and UNC-Wilmington win a conference title and reach the NCAA tournament last season. The 6-5, 185-pound guard from Charlotte led the Seahawks in scoring (17.4 points per game) and averaged 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as a sophomore.

Under NCAA rules, Bryce will have to sit out the 2017-18 season but will have two seasons of eligibility.

South Carolina was also an option for Bryce but his decision to follow Keatts to N.C. State was hardly a surprise on Saturday. Bryce developed into an all-conference player under Keatts at UNCW. He was overlooked by ACC schools coming out of North Mecklenberg but averaged 10.1 points as a freshman for UNCW and his game took off last season.

“(Keatts) has always had confidence in me and showed me I could be a special player,” Bryce said.

After seeing first-hand what Keatts did at UNCW, Bryce has no doubts about what Keatts can do at a Power 5 conference.

“He’s good,” Bryce said. “I think it will be a really smooth transition.”

Bryce said he would like to use the year off (he can still practice) to work on getting stronger. At UNCW, Bryce was usually one of four guards on the floor with one forward. That meant he had to defend the power forward, or “4,” position quite a bit.

Bryce isn’t looking at the jump from UNCW to an ACC school as a way to prove schools wrong for not recruiting him out of high school.

“I think from what I’ve done in my first two years, I’ve proven to people that I can play,” Bryce said. “I just want to continue a special career for myself and to bring success to N.C. State.”

Bryce has already had three games against ACC opponents in his two seasons at UNCW: an NCAA tournament loss to Duke in 2016, a regular-season loss to Clemson this past season and an NCAA tournament loss to Virginia in 2017.

The Virginia loss, 76-71, turned out to be the last game at UNCW for Keatts and Bryce. The Cavaliers held Bryce to eight points on 2-of-11 shooting.

“That wasn’t my best game,” Bryce said.

Bryce struggled but he took it as a sign of respect when UVA recruited him after he decided to leave UNCW.

“They know what I can do,” Bryce said.

But nobody knows Bryce better than Keatts and the two will get a chance to make in the ACC together.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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