Luke DeCock

Smith aside, perimeter holds key for Wolfpack – DeCock

State's Dennis Smith: 'There's no part of me that thinks I'm not ready for anything'

N.C. State freshman Dennis Smith talks to reporters at ACC Basketball Media Day about confidence and being accepted as a leader despite being a freshman on the Wolfpack squad.
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N.C. State freshman Dennis Smith talks to reporters at ACC Basketball Media Day about confidence and being accepted as a leader despite being a freshman on the Wolfpack squad.

N.C. State is Dennis Smith’s team, no doubt about it. Mark Gottfried called him the “best point guard in the country.” NBA scouts will make their pilgrimages to see him over and over again. Since Smith arrived on campus last winter, both he and the Wolfpack have been focused on these six months.

And that’s as it should be. Smith is a rare talent, and he’ll have a natural pick-and-roll combo with Omer Yurtseven (when eligible) and a high-scoring traditional post man to feed in Abdul-Malik Abu. But the Wolfpack’s eventual success or failure won’t be defined by Smith or Yurtseven or Abu. It will be defined by how the perimeter scorers utilize the space created by defenses focused on stopping Smith and the two potent bigs.

N.C. State freshman Dennis Smith talks to reporters at ACC Basketball Media Day about confidence and being accepted as a leader despite being a freshman on the Wolfpack squad.

There should be space available for Terry Henderson, Maverick Rowan and Torin Dorn. The question is what they will do with it. Rowan was a dangerous but streaky spot-up shooter as a freshman; Henderson still hasn’t had a chance to show what he can do in a Wolfpack uniform and Dorn was an effective scorer against a lower level of competition at Charlotte.

If those three can make defenses account for them as well as Smith and Yurtseven and Abu, the Wolfpack will have a multifaceted offense that will be nearly impossible to stop. If defenses can sag off the shooters, there won’t be enough space for Smith to work his magic.

N.C. State basketball coach Mark Gottfried talks about the confidence and leadership of freshman point guard Dennis Smith and the strength and depth of the ACC.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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