NC State emerged from the opening week of the college basketball season with four wins in seven days. That’s a solid start to the Kevin Keatts Era. The fourth win, however, was a bit clunky. The Pack trailed Presbyterian by eight at halftime on Thursday night; thanks to a 50-point second half, though, State pulled out the victory.
Two veterans have lead the way for NC State so far this season: Torin Dorn and Lennard Freeman. Here’s a look at where those two have excelled, and a couple early trends for the Wolfpack.
Everyone and their mother knew that Torin Dorn was poised to have a big season for NC State. A volume of possessions needed to be dispersed after Dennis Smith Jr. jetted for the NBA. Dorn, who was a low-key efficient scorer for the Pack in 2016-17, is an obvious candidate to absorb some of that load.
Dorn has scored at least 14 points in every game this season; he’s using 22.2 percent of NC State possessions while on the floor, per Sports Reference — third on the team. It’s only four games, but despite the increased usage, Dorn has never been more efficient. He ranks No. 295 nationally in terms of offensive rating: 131.9 points per 100 possessions, according to KenPom. Dorn draws 5.2 fouls per 40 minutes, per KenPom, which means trips to the free throw line. He’s third on team with 20 free throw attempts.
The redshirt junior is one of only three ACC players averaging at least 15 points with a usage rate above 22 percent, a true shooting rate above 60 percent and an offensive rebounding rate above 10 percent. The other two players: Bonzie Colson and Marvin Bagley.
A big chunk of Dorn’s attempts come at the rim — 57.4 percent, according to Hoop Math. Dorn’s connected on 88.9 percent (24-of-27) of those attempts, too. Through the first three games of the season, Dorn was a combined 11-of-13 (84.6 percent) on transition and put-back attempts, too, per Synergy Sports.
As good as Torin Dorn has been for NC State, Lennard Freeman has been even better. The fifth-year senior returned healthy and in the best shape of his career for 2017-18. Keatts’ system is a good fit for quick, hard-working post players. Freeman looks like a natural.
In his first three seasons in uniform at NC State, Freeman never scored more than 13 points in a game; however, in three of the first four games of this season, the senior has collected 15-plus points.
Similarly to Dorn, the vast majority of Freeman’s looks come at the rim. According to Hoop Math, nearly 91 percent of Freeman’s field goal attempts (29-of-33) have originated in the restricted area. Freeman has connected on 76.7 percent of these attempts. That’s incredible efficiency at a money spot on the floor for the Pack.
A big boon for Freeman, too: his improved stroke from the free throw line. Freeman leads the team with 23 attempts from the charity stripe, making 19 (82.6 percent). Freeman was a career 47.9 percent free throw shooter entering this season.
The senior has created a lot of contact on post-ups. According to Synergy, in NC State’s first three games, Freeman drew a shooting foul on 30 percent of his post-up possessions.
Nationally, Freeman ranks inside the top 100 of KenPom offensive rating metic (No. 94). He’s also the only ACC player with at least 50 minutes of action, a true shooting rate above 70 percent and a player efficiency rating (PER) north of 35, per Sports Reference.