Some of the NC State players will be going for bragging rights today with the Wolfpack playing at Wake Forest at 7:45 p.m. on Fox Sports Net.
NC State freshman power forward Richard Howell and Wake Forest freshman small forward Ari Stewart played together for two years at Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler, and was teammates on the Worldwide Renegades. Howell and Stewart helped lead Wheeler High to the state title last spring. The two close friends might not guard each other, but surely will have a few words before and after the game.
The 6-foot-7, 190-pound Stewart has emerged as a key sub off the bench for Wake Forest, and erupted for 17 points and four three-pointers in 14 minutes in sparking the Demon Deacons comeback win at Gonzaga. He is averaging 9.0 points per game and shooting 46.2 percent from three-point land.
The 6-8, 266-pound Howell had knee surgery in early October, missing the first four games of the season. He has played in four out of the last five games since he has been cleared, and had a season-high four points and three rebounds in seven minutes last Thursday against Elon off the bench behind senior starter Dennis Horner.
Howell also played in high school against Wake Forest sophomore power forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who was a standout at Norcross (Ga.) High.
NC State sophomore shooting guard C.J. Williams will be guarding a former traveling teammate in WFU freshman shooting guard C.J. Harris. The two played together at times with the Chris Paul All-Stars. Harris also played with NCSU freshman small forward Josh Davis on the North Carolina All-Stars against its South Carolina counterparts last April in the 2009 Carolinas All-Star Classic.
Williams also has high school basketball history with Wake Forest sophomore reserve center Ty Walker. Williams and Fayetteville (N.C.) Jack Britt faced off against Walker and Wilmington (N.C.) New Hanover. The two were teammates in leading North Carolina to an 84-80 victory in the 2008 Carolinas All-Star Classic.
Wake Forest preview
NC State (8-1, 0-0 ACC) at Wake Forest (7-2, 0-0 ACC)
Game time: Today, Dec. 20, 7:45 p.m. - Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Television: Fox Sports Net
PG - 10 Javi Gonzalez (5-11, Jr., 10.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.5 spg)
SG - 21 C.J. Williams (6-5, Soph., 5.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.9 apg)
SF - 15 Scott Wood (6-7, Fr., 5.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.9 spg)
PF - 31 Dennis Horner (6-9, Sr., 15.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.3 bpg)
C - 23 Tracy Smith (6-8, Jr., 18.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.1 ppg)
PG - 10 Ish Smith (6-0, Sr., 12.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.1 apg, 2.0 spg)
SG - 11 C.J. Harris (6-2, Fr., 12.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.9 spg)
SF - 42 L.D. Williams (6-4, Sr., 9.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.6 spg)
PF - 1 Al-Farouq Aminu (6-9, Soph., 15.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.6 spg)
C - 13 Chas McFarland (7-0, Sr., 5.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.1 bpg)
Scouting Wake Forest
Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Nickname: Demon Deacons
2008-09 record: 24-7 overall, 11-5 ACC
2009 postseason: Lost 84-69 to Cleveland State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
Coach: Dino Gaudio, third season at Wake Forest (48-22) and 10th overall (116-146)
The all-time series with NC State: NC State leads 131-98
Last meeting: Wake Forest won 85-78 on Feb. 11, 2009, in Winston-Salem
Wake Forest: Williams scored a career-high 23 points in Wednesday's win at North Carolina Wilmington. Smith tied his career-high with 19 points and four steals, and Aminu had his ACC-leading sixth double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds in the victory ... Wake Forest is 25-31 all-time in ACC openers. The Deacons have won two straight league openers under Gaudio ... Wake Forest features a deep bench with Stewart at small forward, senior David Weaver and sophomore Tony Woods backup up at the two post spots, and junior shooting guard Gary Clark ... Wake Forest is averaging a league-best 43.8 rebounds per game this season ... Smith is 20 assists away from tying Danny Young in fourth place (493) on the school's all-time list.
NC State: The NC State-Wake Forest rivalry is the oldest series for the Wolfpack, going back tot he 1910-11 season. The Demon Deacons are 37-25 when hosting the game, both in Wake Forest, N.C., and Winston-Salem. WFU is 16-4 at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum … NCSU is 31-25 all-time in ACC openers, and 14-17 for road openers … NC State has opened up the ACC season on the road the last four years … Smith is averaging 20.8 points over his last five games, and ranks second in the ACC in scoring, and fifth in rebounding … Horner is averaging 19.5 points per game over his last two contests, including a career-high 23 in the narrow win over Elon on Thursday.