Devon Daniels, D.J. Funderburk to test NBA Draft process
If there ever was an offseason to not have to worry about rebuilding half a roster, this would be the one.
The recruiting restrictions due to the coronavirus have eliminated unofficial and official visits until at least April 15, and have caused NC State head coach Kevin Keatts to become a Zoom expert for video calls.
The good news for Keatts is that he has all 13 scholarships accounted for for next year, but he also has some “what if” scenarios. Keatts said Thursday over a Zoom meeting with the media that redshirt junior wing Devon Daniels and redshirt junior post player D.J. Funderburk will test the NBA Draft waters and get feedback on where they stand. Funderburk was third on the team with 12.8 points plus 6.1 rebounds, and Daniels was right behind at 12.7 points and 5.3 boards per contest.
The NBA Draft process will also likely get altered due to the coronavirus, making pro teams likely rely more on scouting and video than years past.
“They will both go through the process with the NBA to figure out where their status is,” Keatts said. “They will learn a lot more of what the NBA folks think about them. They’ll take the feedback and make an informed decision of what their future is here.
“I don’t even know how the process will look.”
Senior point guard Markell Johnson and fifth-year senior wing C.J. Bryce were also both invited to the Portsmouth Invitational, which ended up being canceled. Keatts wonders how those two will go through workouts in light of everything.
Closer to home, some of the injured NCSU players aren’t able to rehab on campus anymore. Junior shooting guard Thomas Allen, who had his ankle cleaned up during his redshirt year after transferring back home from Nebraska, and redshirt sophomore power forward A.J. Taylor, missed this past season due to a knee injury. Taylor did return to practice with the team before the ACC Tournament.
“I wouldn’t say that A.J. is 100 percent, but he’s in a much better place with his knee,” Keatts said. “He’ll be ready to go by the time we roll into the season. The tough thing about it is that guys like A.J. would be getting therapy, and Thomas Allen also. We can’t do that because they aren’t allowed on campus.”
NC State has offered Houston Baptist graduate transfer Ian DuBose, who starred locally at Raleigh Ravenscroft, and sophomore Trey Wertz of Santa Clara, who attended Charlotte Providence Day. Both are wings, and versatile perimeter player Jamarius Burton, a sophomore from Wichita State, could be another option. He attended Charlotte Independence High.
“We are talking to graduates and different people,” Keatts said. “I know everybody loves to do the numbers game, and they’ll add up to where you only got 13 guys and you only have 13 scholarships.
“In today’s world, I can go to the portal tonight [online]. You could have five guys in the portal, not that will happen. You have to continue to recruit.”
Keatts said that you always have to stay ready in college basketball recruiting. He figures evaluating high school players won’t happen until possibly July, and that he hopes the NCAA allows more evaluation days.
“I don’t have any indication of anybody that is not returning,” Keatts said. “After the season ended, I had a conversation with pretty much every guy on our team, including the seniors and fifth-year guys.”
The college basketball world has been shaken to its core ever since the ACC and other league canceled conference tournaments March 12, and eventually the NCAA Tournament.
“We all have had to get used to it,” Keatts said. “I hope everyone is kind of doing the right thing and staying away from folks [social distancing] and stay in the house.”
NC State went from being 20-12 and planning to play Duke, to having its season end in unprecedented fashion. Keatts originally was hoping the NCAA Tournament would get postponed, but it’s obvious now in retrospect, that the right decision was made. He just wishes his four seniors had a smoother exit from college basketball.
The players started online classes this past Monday, and that’s another big adjustment for the players. Keatts has noticed that the younger generation doesn’t check emails.
“You always have some guys that need a little bit more help academically with tutors,” Keatts said. “Now, I have to rely on the guys to log in every day and talk to the tutors and make sure we are on track.”
Keatts knows there are more important matters going on in the world and he will make adjustments along the way. He knows he is fighting a “moving target.”
“We are fighting a dangerous virus,” Keatts said. “I tell our guys and even the guys we are recruiting, it’s not about us or recruiting or athletics, it’s about the safety and well-being of our country and the world. Everybody has to take a step back and put athletics on the back burner.”