Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2009-2010 Wolfpack Basketball Preview: The Small Forwards

Name: Scott Wood
Height: 6'7
Weight: 170
Class: Freshman

Scott Wood can score. The 6'7" forward is another product from Marion High School in Indiana, the same school that produced Wolfpack point guard Julius Mays. Coming from a winning program, Wood is known for his intensity and drive to win. He's probably even more known for his quick release, and long range sharp shooting. Wood possesses a jump shot that was one of the most feared in the 2009 class, and which helped make him to be ESPNU's #1 signing day sleeper last November.

Wood's ability to score in bunches will certainly help a Wolfpack team who hasn't had a consistent three point threat the last few seasons. His release is as quick as they come and has been compared to that of former Davidson sensation Stephen Curry, who's hair-trigger release made him a nightmare for anyone who attempted to guard him. The ACC, however, is a whole new ballgame and will take some getting used to for Wood who is still a bit slender by ACC standards. That's not to say that Scott can't attack the basket. This summer he surprised his teammates with his ability to put the ball on the floor and finish with authority. The key to Wood's overall success on the offensive end will be showing this ability come game time. Teams will certainly make a point to keep tabs on Wood and to eliminate open looks from long range. With opponents looking to press up on him, Wood will need to keep them honest with his dribble-drive and ability to finish in traffic.

When he signed with NC State, ball handling was one of his weaknesses, however, he was forced to take over at point guard his senior season when Marion's starting point man was ruled ineligible. He told us earlier this off-season how being moved out of position was a blessing in disguise.

"Playing point last year definitely helped me. Now, I'm more confident with the ball when defenders pressure me and am able to take them off the dribble on the wing." Scott told us.

Offense is something that Wood has never truly struggled with, and given some time, he should adapt to the ACC game and become a big time scoring threat for the Pack. The only question for Wood then becomes playing time. With a high basketball IQ, a motor that never stops and the ability to put the ball in the hole, you'd think there was no way Scott could be kept off the floor.

One thing the Wolfpack will need to focus on this season is defense. With their top three scorers gone from last season they will need to keep opponents in check if they want to be successful. With Wood, it's not a question of desire, but like with any freshman, there will be a learning curve on the defensive side of the ball. There is no question that, at points this season, Wood will be matched up against a quicker opponent on the wing. He will need to show Coach Lowe that he can make stops and stay in front of quicker, more athletic forwards if he wants to stay on the court.

Name: Josh Davis
Height: 6'7
Weight: 205
Class: Freshman

Sidney Lowe has made it a point that he wants guys who will buy into the program and give 110% every time they are on the floor. With Josh Davis, he has just that. Davis grew up a Wolfpack fan and has always idolized the past players that donned the red and white. Now it's his turn. The athletic forward was a late bloomer at Athens High School in Raleigh and went unnoticed by many big name programs and recruiting services, however, he didn't slip past Sidney Lowe.

"He’s the type of player that you don’t have to call a play for, he just makes it happen. When I talked about the ball being on the floor, he’s the first one to go on the floor, the first. He’s going to be a guy that it’s going to be hard to not have him on the floor, because he does all the little things. He defends, he rebounds, he runs, he’s going to get those loose balls and he’s a finisher. He gets on the break, he’s gets the ball and he finishes. He’ll get the offensive rebound, go back up and get fouled. He’s been fun to coach." said Lowe in his preseason press conference.

That is an outstanding vote of confidence from a coach who puts more stock into hard work and effort than he does into pure talent. While playing the same position, Davis and Wood are completely different players. Josh is not a go-to scoring threat, but that does not mean he can't put up points. As a senior at Athens, he averaged over 25 points per game and pulled down over 8 rebounds. Although the staff isn't looking for Davis to put up those type of numbers in the ACC, they are hoping that he can bring his hustle, heart and athleticism every time he steps on the floor, something they've been very pleased with thus far in the preseason practices.

At 205lbs, Davis already has the build to compete in the ACC and has shown the staff that he wants to be on the floor, showing a positive attitude and a willingness to work. He is only a freshman and will certainly have to get acquainted with going up against great players every night, but the coaching staff has been surprised at how well he's adapted thus far. It's strange to say this with Davis being such an unheralded recruit, but as of now, he has the least amount of questions surrounding him at the SF position for the Pack.

Name: Johnny Thomas
Height: 6'6
Weight: 206
Class: Sophomore (redshirt)

If Johnny Thomas gets a lane, your best option might be to move. Thomas is a high flying forward who possesses elite athleticism coupled with a never quit attitude that has the coaches ready to see what he can do in his first healthy season. The fact is, Thomas has never gotten a chance to show the Pack fans what he's capable of. Redshirted in his first season at NC State with a serious knee injury, Thomas came back last year to provide some help and some hustle at the SF spot. Unfortunately for Johnny, his knee continued to act up and he was forced to miss a majority of the season.

This year he is fully healthy by his own admission and could be a key piece for a Pack team in need of a scorer. Watch Thomas play when healthy, and you catch glimpses of a young Gerald Henderson. From the build, to the shot, to the insane hops, JT has it all. The question is not whether it's there, but whether he can harness it and whether his knees will allow him to.

Thomas has spent the off-season strengthening his knee and honing his jumpshot, in hopes of filling the vacant SF role for the Wolfpack. Last season when Johnny stepped foot on the floor, he was aggressive, physical and active on both ends, but never quite looked full-strength, thanks to the knee. If he is able to overcome the injury woes and shows off the new found jumper that he flashed in the 'Red Rally scrimmage,' Thomas could be a pleasant surprise and a true team leader. If, however, his knee acts up again and his athleticism is hindered, he may find himself fighting harder than he thought to find court time.

The small forward position is easily the most versatile position on the floor for the Wolfpack this season with an array of new faces that possess a wide range of talents. Scott Wood, Josh Davis and Johnny Thomas will compete for minutes at this slot and all three bring a different dynamic when they're on the court.

This position battle may be more about match-ups than it is about finding one player to log most of the minutes. Wood will certainly make teams think twice about going zone, while Davis and Thomas will be the ones Lowe looks to when he needs a stop or he wants to push the tempo.

The SF position is really one to watch and one that could prove to be vital for the Pack. Like with the shooting guards, the small forward position has it's questions, but with three capable options, it seems hard to believe that Sidney and the coaching staff won't be able to find an answer.


21 Responses to "2009-2010 Wolfpack Basketball Preview: The Small Forwards"
  1. Pack Leader said...
    November 4, 2009 at 2:02 PM

    Good preview.

    I expect Horner to log some mins at the 3 aswell.

  2. Wolfpack Hoops said...
    November 4, 2009 at 2:06 PM

    ^ A possibility, but he's bulked up quite a bit and the coaches have used him exclusively at the 4 in practice.

  3. Dave said...
    November 4, 2009 at 2:24 PM

    I love these write ups WPH!!! Great read.
    I've always seen Horner as a 4 anyway, he just seemed a bit slower than the others he matched up against. I think it will be a good fit for him at 4 too, cause he can pop out for a 3 and create matchup problems.

  4. Alum02 said...
    November 4, 2009 at 3:03 PM

    Definitely some good options. I do think we'll see CJW at the 3 some this year if Degand plays well at the 2. If you want to run a 3 guard lineup, your best bet is to get Javi, Degand, and CJW on the court together if they can produce. Javi, CJW, and Davis wouldn't be a bad lineup. Mays, CJW, and Wood if teams go to a zone. Lots of options.

  5. WolfCop said...
    November 4, 2009 at 3:55 PM


    I don't think Horner was quick enough to guard most 3's BEFORE he put on the weight. :0) But, if we go very tall I guess you're right.

  6. TJ said...
    November 4, 2009 at 4:30 PM

    Any update on the C.J. Leslie ordeal? Has been pretty quiet on that front lately.... Anything coming out of Kentucky about him going their? I follow a lot of news and stuff all over the internet and I keep hearing that Leslie is going to go to Florida. Any truth to that being possible?

  7. Anonymous said...
    November 4, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    Only way that Horner sees time at the three is if there is an injury at the two, causing guys to slide down; or if none of the 3s pan out and the coaches just want to put the 5 best out on the floor (like the "big" line-up that we saw last year).

    Lowe has a NBA mentality, especially with PFs. He likes PFs that can step out and shoot the 3. Besides which there are a bunch of athletic 3s in this conference that Horner would stand no chance guarding.

    I also like CJW at the 3.

  8. Slick said...
    November 4, 2009 at 5:30 PM

    Am I hallucinating?

    I thought I seen a Ryan Harrow video up a while ago.

  9. Eric said...
    November 4, 2009 at 6:24 PM

    Speaking of the 3, I saw highschoolhoop say that Tashawn Mabry is in town for an official (the last one he is giving). I am not sold on him, but plenty of others are...I can be convinced, but need to see more.

  10. Slick said...
    November 4, 2009 at 6:25 PM

    What is all this crap I've been hearing that there could be some kind of ncaa infraction if Leslie were to sign with State?

  11. Afterglow said...
    November 4, 2009 at 8:49 PM

    I think that's if Calapari comes with him.

  12. Anonymous said...
    November 4, 2009 at 10:17 PM


  13. Slick said...
    November 4, 2009 at 10:35 PM


    What the hell does that mean?

  14. Afterglow said...
    November 4, 2009 at 11:04 PM

    Maybe it's a technical for me. I'm going to bed!

  15. Anonymous said...
    November 4, 2009 at 11:06 PM

    I would love to land Maybry soon as a SF/PF option. He's a top 50 type talent and a four year player..versatile guy ...PJ tucker..Trevor Booker mold...great body,bball skills and he hustles.

  16. Anonymous said...
    November 5, 2009 at 12:56 AM

    I would take Mabry in a heartbeat. This a very talented prospect.

  17. Anonymous said...
    November 5, 2009 at 1:14 AM

    These previews always get me jacked up for some hoops! My only concern with Horner is how is his stroke? I remember when Brackman bulked up, it was too much for him and his shot suffered. He also was injury prone due to his body not being able to adjust quickly enough to its new mass. Horner is a great asset, and if he still has his touch with his new muscle, then he will contribute greatly! Great job as always WPH and GO PACK!!


  18. RPMAN said...
    November 5, 2009 at 7:29 AM

    I like Tashawn, but he is not a top 50 type talent. He isnt even listed in rivals top 150. He is a 3 star on scout. I will be glad to get him especially if Sid and Co think he can help but lets not inflate his stature in the rankings.

  19. Anonymous said...
    November 5, 2009 at 10:12 AM

    I am getting excited boy ,it looks like we just may be loaded

  20. Anonymous said...
    November 5, 2009 at 10:49 AM has him top 50 regardless of class and says he's the most under-rated kid they've seen...and they've seen him play 20+ fwiw...maybry is an awesome hs player but rarely plays aau...

  21. Pack Leader said...
    November 5, 2009 at 12:07 PM

    I like Mabry but I agree with RPMAN hes not top 50 talent. I dont actually see him as top 100 talent but I like his hustle but with the limited # of scholarships we have avaliable right now I would hold out. Remember we are in the hunt for Ross & Hood both top 20 players.

    Get the top players. Period.


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