N.C. State: Losing Josh Hall is a Season-Killer

Prized recruit Josh Hall became the latest player by-passing the NCAA and will enter the NBA Draft.

We don’t know for sure if there will be a college basketball season this year or potentially what shape a season would take. We do know however that prized recruit Josh Hall won’t be taking part in it. The four-star small forward was the prize of the Wolfpack’s 2020 recruiting class, a major part of Kevin Keatts’ succession plan after the graduation of Markell Johnson and C.J. Bryce.

Hall became the latest recruit to forgo his NCAA eligibility to bolt for the NBA. Hall is the sixth top 50 player to rebuff college offers to turn pro, marking a potential landscape changing moment in basketball.

Hall was ranked the no. 5 player at his position, with 247Sports describing him as a…”Great shooter with deep range. Stretch four-man or combo forward who handles well in open court. Great finisher with variety of shots off one foot going to the basket.” He was expected to bring star power and was the driving factor to the Wolfpack having a top-10 recruiting class in the nation (the Wolfpack has since dropped to no. 21 in the nation).

N.C. State, perhaps more than any team in the nation, has been crushed by top recruits deciding to go pro. In addition to Hall, the Wolfpack lost star point guard Jalen Lecque to the NBA Draft from the 2019 class, leading to a crippling depth and scoring problem on the 2019-20 team that ultimately capped the team’s ceiling.

Lecque, a consensus four-star prospect that averaged 13.1 points for the Northern Arizona Suns last season, was supposed to be part of a dynamic duo with Johnson that had the potential to challenge for the ACC title in a weakened conference.

The difference between the loss of Hall and Lecque is that the Wolfpack had a veteran-laden roster to fall back on in 2019. Having the combo of Johnson, Bryce, and forward D.J. Funderburk on the roster was enough to make the Wolfpack a borderline NCAA Tournament team.

There is no such safety net in 2020. The Wolfpack still brings in four-star prospect Cam Hayes, but the 6’1″ point guard is seen more as a pass-first facilitator, not the scoring threat that Hall was expected to be.

The Wolfpack received good news with the return of Devon Daniels for his senior season, but Funderburk’s name is still in the eligible draft list. Even if both return, it’s hard to see the Wolfpack having enough firepower to compete in the ACC, especially with Duke and UNC pulling in the no. 2 and 3 classes respectively.

As the Wolfpack and other colleges across the country, one has to wonder if coaches like Keatts will become advocates for player compensation. After back to back years losing star players that could’ve paved him a brighter and more secure future at N.C. State, how could Keatts not be advocating for a new NCAA model?

Either way, the 2020-21 N.C. State team has once again been dealt a huge blow. At this stage, it’s impossible for Keatts to fill that scholarship with a similar impact player, leaving the team without the requisite depth and star power to end the ACC Championship drought.