North Carolina State nearly picked up a key non-conference resume building victory over Missouri last weekend but ended up falling just short. The Wolfpack blew the lead with 1:23 remaining in the game and allowed the Tigers to come back and pick up the victory.
None of that loss could be blamed on sophomore star T.J. Warren who scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Warren may be the best player in the ACC so far this season. That’s not just because of his outstanding numbers of 24 points per game and nearly eight rebounds per game, but also because Warren is basically the only player defenses know they have to stop. Despite that, Warren is an absolute terror to cover. He he extremely efficient and has no problem being the leader. That is definitely the reason why any success North Carolina State has in the ACC season will completely depend on how Warren handles the rigors of conference play.
Warren has some players around him who may offer help with Anthony Barber (12.2 PPG, 4.5 APG) and freshman Lennard Freeman (6.8 RPG), but neither of those players — or anyone else for that matter — will ever match the level of play Warren brings game-in and game-out. Warren had some hype built around him in the preseason, but with the focus on Duke‘s Jabari Parker, no one ever mentioned Warren as an ACC Player of the Year candidate. Well, with his numbers so far he should be in the first sentence of that discussion, especially if the Wolfpack make any kind of the noise in the conference.
Warren is a scary proposition for any defense because of how many different ways he can attack on offense. Warren is long at 6-foot-8 and strong at 215-pounds. He can bang inside and score off of the post with those attributes. He also can step out and hit mid-range jumpers and use fakes to find his way into the paint for close shots and layups. Warren is basically a player that cannot be stopped.
While NC State may not have the full roster that makes them an imposing force for other ACC teams, Warren would not surprise anyone if he explodes against Duke, North Carolina or Syracuse and helps spring an upset. Warren is already an All-American level talent, and since he can handle holding the team on his shoulders, North Carolina State could be the surprise of the ACC.