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After 2 seasons with Virginia, can NC State unlock a more efficient Casey Morsell?

Casey Morsell is leaving Virginia, but he plans to stay in the ACC. On Friday, Morsell — two weeks after entering the transfer portal — committed to NC State.

One of the more decorated recruits in recent history for UVA, Morsell spent two seasons in Charlottesville without really finding his niche. A former 4-star prospect, Morsell dominated the prep basketball scene in Washington D.C. He even spent time in the USA Basketball system.

However, Morsell struggled mightily with his jumper as a freshman. There were flashes of intrigue (wins overArizona State and at UNC), but Morsell just shot 27.7 percent from the field and 17.6 percent on his 3-point attempts.

The 6-foot-3 Morsell improved as a shooter his sophomore season; while playing only 15 minutes per game; Morsell averaged 4.4 points (44.3 eFG%) and 1.3 rebounds.

Morsell was technically in Virginia’s rotation, but he was mostly bench depth behind Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman, a rising star in college hoops.

Unfortunately, Morsell never fit in Virginia’s offense, which predicates itself on patient off-ball movement and screen usage. Morsell shot just 12-of-35 on off-screen FGA across two seasons, according to Synergy Sports.

NC State worked to manufacture more off-ball packages this season after the injury to Devon Daniels; however, Kevin Keatts wants to run spread pick-and-roll. Morsell could find a home in this system, but it will be a bit of an adjustment.

Most of the ball-handling reads in NC State’s system are fairly straightforward. Run pick-and-roll and, depending on how the defense covers the ball screen, survey 1-2 different reads or look for your shot.

Morsell is a career 20.3 percent 3-point shooter; in 997 career minutes, he registered only 26 assists and 25 free throw attempts. Those numbers must improve.

When he has the ball, Morsell wants to look for his midrange pull-up. That’s fine, although it can’t be the only weapon in the arsenal.

According to Synergy Sports, Morsell used only 12 pick-and-roll possessions this season: 4-of-12 FGA (33.3 eFG%). That number is about to jump.

Morsell is an obvious candidate for NC State to run some of its empty-side ball screen action though — off an Iverson cut.

Again, this is uncomplicated offense: look for your own shot, kick it to Jericole Hellems if he’s open, or swing it back to the point guard and reset.

Running with the Wolfpack, Morsell will have plenty of opportunities to get to his midrange; the key for NC State will be to see if the staff can coax a more expansive offensive game.

Is there a more efficient offensive package to unlock? The answer to that will depend on how much juice Morsell actually has as a downhill-driver.

Morsell is powerfully built at nearly 200 pounds; he has a decent first step, too. However, the rim finishing and FTA volume at Virginia were paltry.

(Morsell’s strength should serve him well on defensive side of the floor at NC State. The Wolfpack switch the vast majority of actions/exchanges 1-4; Morsell must be ready for that workload.)

Given Morsell’s prep basketball pedigree and flashes of offensive creation, the addition is a significant talent play for NC State. The work is just beginning, though.

 

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