Coach Kevin Keatts proud of NC State's No. 5-ranked class
NC State basketball head coach Kevin Keatts was excited that his staff’s hard work paid off with the current Rivals.com No. 5-ranked recruiting class in the country.
The Wolfpack secured commitments from Hickory (N.C.) Moravian Prep teammates Josh Hall, a five-star recruit, and three-star Shakeel Moore in recent days to finish off a five-man class, which features four players from the state of North Carolina. Hall is originally from Durham, while Moore and four-star point guard Camren Hayes hail from Greensboro.
Hayes was originally offered Sept. 29, 2018, but the remaining members of the class were targeted after their 2018-19 prep seasons were completed.
“I’m excited about our future. We signed five really good basketball players that can certainly help us in the future,” Keatts said. “It helps us continue to develop our culture. When you look at the guys that we signed, all five fill a need for us.
“All of these guys could have chosen to go somewhere else, but decided to come to NC State.”
The Wolfpack has relied on transfers — graduate transfers, four-year transfers and junior college transfers — the last two years. The original hope was that the class of 2018 would be that “foundation” class of prep players, but then Saddiq Bey was released from his letter of intent and picked Villanova, and post player Ian Steere left the Wolfpack for St. John’s after playing five minutes in the season opener last year.
That left current redshirt freshman center Manny Bates and sophomore power forward Jericole Hellems. Keatts credited Bates for helping to begin the momentum, after he picked NC State over South Carolina and Georgetown coming out of Fayetteville (N.C.) Northwood Temple.
“It started with Manny Bates,” Keatts said. “He could have gone to a lot of programs. He decided to stay in state.”
Rivals.com ranks Hall at No. 26 overall in the class of 2020, while Hayes is listed at No. 48 nationally. The other three members are three-star prospects who are not included in the Rivals150, but Dowuona is deemed the No. 27 center in the class, Moore the No. 40 shooting guard and Farrar the No. 50 power forward.
Add in Nebraska junior shooting guard transfer Thomas Allen and freshman wing Dereon Seabron, who is redshirting this season due to academics, and NC State will have seven newcomers next year.
“Give our staff a lot of credit. I thought my assistant coaches did a tremendous job recruiting those guys,” Keatts said. “I’m pumped about this class. It was one that we needed to have.”
The class also was fluid due to various members reclassifying in high school. Hayes was originally in the class of 2020, made the move to 2021 when he transferred from Greensboro Smith to Greensboro Day, but is now back in 2020. Moore and Hall both had the option of enrolling at a college this year, or at the mid-semester point, but elected to spend their fifth year together at Moravian Prep.
Farrar was the first to commit after he earned his NC State scholarship offer, announcing his intentions to stay close to home Aug. 7, two days after earning the tender. Hayes and Dowuona both officially visited the Wolfpack during the fall and wanted to join the party in Raleigh.
NC State and Hayes, in particular, targeted Hall, and eventually Moore was re-prioritized down the stretch. Hayes played traveling team ball with Moore last spring and summer on CP3. That allowed Keatts to know Moore could play off the ball in college with Hayes.
Hall joined the squad for one weekend, and Hayes got to know the skilled inside-outside forward. Moore’s transfer from Greensboro Piedmont Classical gave him a chance to get to know Hall better while the duo teamed up at Moravian Prep.
“Cam Hayes texted me when Josh committed and said, ‘Man, I did a great job,’” Keatts said. “It is becoming popular for in-state guys to come to NC State. That is one of those things that we wanted to happen.”
Keatts lamented some of the battles he lost with in-state recruits. Guard Jaden Springer, who is from Charlotte but attends IMG Academy in Florida, picked Tennessee. Senior center Day’Ron Sharpe of Winterville was a early priority, but then quickly committed to North Carolina. Twelve players with past or current ties to the state of North Carolina picked high-major programs, and a few others who signed with mid-major colleges had high-major offers.
“We only do well with the people who want to come to our program,” Keatts said. “I’m excited about all four of the in-state guys who felt like this program was good enough for them to come here.”
Dowuona, whose older brother is a redshirt freshman center at Purdue, brings some of the same characteristics as Bates. He’s the first Georgia product to pick NC State since wing Jaqawn Raymond of Statesboro (Ga.) High in the class of 2011, who played one year for the Wolfpack before he transferred to Middle Tennessee State.
“[Dowuona] is a little bit more skilled offensively at this point than Manny,” Keatts said. “He can step out and do a few more things than Manny. He’s a tremendous shot-blocker, similar to Manny.”