While much of the talk has centered around whether NC State will land unsigned senior power forward DeShawn Painter, not as much has been discussed on what Painter would add to the Wolfpack.
Painter, a 6-foot-9, 210-pounder from Norfolk, Va., is ranked No. 127 overall by Rivals.com and is the No. 18 center in the country. He picked the Wolfpack on Wednesday night, and will make an immediate impact next year.
Here are five areas where Painter will help NC State and coach Sidney Lowe:
1. Protection against injuries
NC State returns 6-foot-9 senior combo forward Dennis Horner and 6-8 sophomore center/power forward Tracy Smith, and signed 6-8 power forward Richard Howell in November. More help was needed this spring, resulting in 7-0, 230-pound Jordan Vandenberg of Australia, and the targeting of Painter.
Painter would provide added protection in case one of the big men go down with an injury, and allow players such as small forwards Johnny Thomas and Josh Davis, the chance to remain at their natural positions and not have to help out at power forward.
2. Pressure alleviated for the future
Painter's commitment takes the pressure off of NC State from landing multiple big men in the Class of 2010. Recruiting big men is never easy, and while NC State has some strong ties to 6-8 junior forwards Luke Cothron and C.J. Leslie, there's no guarantee of the Wolfpack landing both inside players. Painter helps not only this upcoming season but the future.
The nucleus of Smith, Howell, Painter and Vandenberg (plus possibly another big man in 2010) could mature together and form a strong nucleus for the future. NC State is essentially killing two birds with one stone by helping the 2009-2010 team, but in a way, filling a need one year ahead of time in recruiting. He's an unexpected bonus.
3. Shot-blocking presence
Painter's ability to block and alter shots might be his biggest early contribution on the court. He's a great athlete with a big wing span at 6-9, and takes pride on the defensive end. He's battled some of the top big men in the Class of 2009, and won't be fazed by what he sees in the ACC. He could provide that active big men presence similar to what freshman Tony Woods provided last year for Wake Forest.
NC State's other top shot-blockers might be its guards — 6-4 Lorenzo Brown and 6-5 C.J. Williams. Vandenberg could also be a presence inside, but Wolfpack fans won't know much about him until practices get started in October.
4. Provide competition
The best programs thrive when the starters know they can't slack off or else the backups will pass them by. A potential signing of Painter will add one more player to the mix, who is coming in with the mindset of becoming a starter. Smith, Horner and Howell, also have that mindset for next fall. Smith is a lock to be a starter, but the other starting post spot is up for grabs.
Lowe will play the best player, whether it's a senior like Horner or an incoming freshman. Horner and Smith would work well in the Wolfpack's high-low sets, and Howell will help as a rebounder and with his face-up game, where he can drive to the rim or show off his passing skills. But don't be mistaken, Painter will be coming to NC State hoping to start.
5. Provide flexibility
Only Lowe and the coaching staff will know this one, but if they believe that playing a big lineup is the best approach, the Wolfpack now have enough numbers to pull it off next year. NC State turned to Smith, 6-8 forward Brandon Costner and 6-9 center Ben McCauley down the stretch last year. Horner helped provide depth by playing both forward spots off the bench.
NC State could conceivably play some sort of trio of big men with Horner lined up as the small forward. Smith, Painter, Howell and Vandenberg would handle the two power spots in the rotation.