The Wolfpacker

May 2017 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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76 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY JACEY ZEMBAL C oncord (N.C.) Robinson senior point guard Lavar Batts Jr. believes some divine intervention played a key role in him going to NC State. The 6-3, 170-pound Batts narrowed his choices to VCU and Clemson before pick- ing the Rams the first time around. When VCU head coach Will Wade left to go to LSU, and NC State fired head coach Mark Gottfried and hired Kevin Keatts, the pro- cess started for Batts to end up playing for the Wolfpack. He verbally committed to NC State April 1. "I love State to death, and that is my love and my school," said Batts, 18. "That is the school I want to be at and be with Wolfpack Nation. "I talked it over with my family and ever since my sophomore year when I went to see NC State, I fell in love with State. I felt like God put it back in my life." Keatts met with the Batts family March 29 and let Lavar know he could come in and make an impact right away. Batts hopes to study sports medicine at NC State. "He said I was a North Carolina kid, and I should be playing in the Carolinas," Batts noted. "He said he had seen me play and couldn't wait to see me play for him." Rising sophomore point guard Markell Johnson is currently the lone ball handler on the roster for NC State. The Wolfpack had signed point guard Thomas Allen of Raleigh, but he elected to open up his re- cruitment following the coaching change. Keatts knew he had to add at least one point guard this spring. Lavar Batts Sr., who coached his son at Robinson High, called the hiring of Keatts the "game-changer" in his son's second recruitment. "That was the main decision," Batts Sr. said. "You see what he did with those guys at UNC Wilmington. "Coach Keatts had recruited Lavar for a long time while at UNC Wilmington. He knew it was a long shot, but we loved the way they played watching the last couple of years in the NCAA Tournament. He had his teams ready. "They play an up-and-down game and play defense. That is what Lavar loves to do." After Batts received his release from VCU, he decided to keep his second re- cruitment private. "I prayed on it and put it in God's hands," he said. "There was nothing against VCU, and I appreciate everything they've done for me. "It's a blessing because a lot of people want to play in the ACC. Knowing that I am getting that opportunity, I have to step up my game even more." Rivals.com recruiting analyst Eric Bossi has watched Batts play extensively over the years, and ranked him as a four-star prospect and the No. 101 overall player in the class of 2017. "What stands out about Batts to me are his physical attributes," Bossi said. "He's got long arms, he's speedy with the ball and he's very athletic. "He is a guy who is capable of pushing the tempo on the offensive end and looks most comfortable in an up-and-down setting." Batts' quickness, length and desire should immediately translate on the defen- sive end in college. "I've always felt that he has the tools to develop into good to great defender at the high-major level, and I think he has a toughness about him," Bossi said. "A col- lege weight room will do him wonders." Gottfried and his staff had evaluated Batts during his first three years of high school, but never offered a scholarship. However, his unofficial trips to campus gave Batts the familiarity with NC State to commit to the Wolfpack without yet of- ficially visiting the school. His last unofficial to NC State was when ■ BASKETBALL RECRUITING Lavar Batts Jr. Becomes The First Recruit Of The Kevin Keatts Era Rivals.com rates Batts as a four-star talent and the No. 101 overall prospect in the nation. PHOTO BY JACEY ZEMBAL

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