N.C. State basketball got some big news on Wednesday when senior guard Devon Daniels withdrew his name from the NBA Draft.
The return of Devon Daniels will give N.C. State basketball a huge boost in the upcoming season, as the guard announced earlier this week that he would be returning to Raleigh for his senior year. Daniels had been the Wolfpack’s most consistent player during the COVID-shortened 2019-2020 campaign, averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. It was undoubtedly the redshirt senior’s best season at the collegiate level and as a result of his success he entered his name into the NBA Draft’s early entry list. Daniels will rejoin the Wolfpack as perhaps the undisputed team leader for what figures to be a young lineup for Kevin Keatts.
Daniels’ return is especially important considering the Wolfpack could potentially lose three of their top four scorers from last season.
This year’s N.C. State team could look vastly different from the first three teams of the Keatts era. Markell Johnson and leading-scorer CJ Bryce are out of college eligibility and rising senior DJ Funderburk remains in the draft pool. Funderburk, who was second in both scoring and rebounding this past season has the option of withdrawing from the draft and returning to school up until the June 3rd deadline.
Regardless of the big man’s decision though, Daniels will be expected to take another leap forward this season. Aside from the three players above, he was the only Wolfpack player to average at least 10 points or five rebounds per game. It’s also worth mentioning that Pat Andree, who was arguably the team’s best three-point shooter, also won’t be returning this fall.
Despite the losses N.C. State is currently experiencing, they do fortunately bring back a good bit of talent aside from Daniels. The Pack will return sophomore center Manny Bates, who proved himself as an elite shot-blocker this past season, as well as junior forward Jericole Hellems, who has played a significant role for N.C. State over the past two years. Braxton Beverly will also be back. In addition, the Wolfpack also currently has a top-25 recruiting class for 2020, although top recruit Josh Hall has officially decided to forgo what likely would’ve been his lone college season. To offset the loss of Hall though, N.C. State has also become a potential destination for several graduate transfers.
Assuming Daniels can continue to improve as he did this past season, he could play himself into the 2021 NBA Draft.
The fact that Daniels withdrew his name from the draft this soon suggests one thing: it was unlikely he was going to get selected. With that being said, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t good a player. Daniels improved his shooting percentage by a whopping six-percent between his sophomore and junior years, shooting an impressive 47% clip this past season. He needs to improve from three-point range; however, a bigger role in the Wolfpack’s offense could help him accomplish that.
He has decent size and is a decent rebounder for a guard, he just needs to avoid the “me” plays that have plagued him during his first two years in Raleigh. There’s no doubt he was a much better (and more consistent) player this past season than he was the year before; however, both the NBA and N.C. State will need him to make more of an impact in the upcoming campaign. If there’s anyone the Wolfpack has to know they can count on this year it’s going to be Daniels. The incoming freshmen class as well as returning players will be looking to the senior for not only production on the court but also veteran leadership and for him to set the tone of the program.
When Daniels transferred in from Utah, it was perhaps in hopes of finding a bigger role in a system that best fit him. After sitting behind Johnson and company for two seasons, it’s finally Daniels’ team. Both the Wolfpack and his own personal future need him to make the most of it.