NC State Forward TJ Warren Should Keep the Wolfpack in Contention

Bob Donnan – USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina State Wolfpack lost a lot from a team that won 24 games a season ago, and many people are expecting them to take a big step back. However, one of the things people are failing to take into consideration is the fact that despite the major turnover to the roster, Mark Gottfried‘s squad still boasts one of the best players in the conference in forward TJ Warren.

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound sophomore has already gotten off to a strong start in the 2013-14 season, scoring 27 points and grabbing eight rebounds in a win over Appalachian State. He looks poised to follow up an outstanding freshman season, in which he averaged 12.1 points while shooting a scorching 62.2 percent from the field. And while he didn’t attempt many three-pointers, he still managed to connect on 51.9 percent when he actually launched from downtown.

In short, he has proven to be one of the most efficient scorers in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Warren was a little bit up and down last season, but that’s to be expected as a freshman. For example, he scored 31 points against Florida State and had 18 against a strong Michigan team, but he was held scoreless in losses to Maryland and Clemson. Still, he’s got the talent level to potentially become a lottery pick this season, and right now he is projected by ESPN.com as a late first rounder, largely due to the fact that he’s a bit between positions, not quite having the bulk to play the power forward spot and without the overall ball handling skills to play small forward at the next level.

Still, that’s irrelevant for this season with Wolfpack fans. Many people are expecting a big fall off this season, but if Warren is an extremely talented scorer and a smart enough player to carry NC State to at least the top half of the ACC standings and challenge for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Jeff is an ACC basketball writer on RantSports.com.  Follow him on Twitter @jekelish and “Like” him on Facebook.

Around the Web