The Wolfpacker

May 2017 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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84 ■ THE WOLFPACKER ■ PACK PROS situation, this opportunity, and I'm defi- nitely going to make the most out of it. "I feel like I can be a better pro than I ever was a college player. … I feel like I'll get in the right system that fits me, and I can do a ton of things for a team. I feel like there are no limitations on what I can do for an NFL team." The safety was quick to admit that he'll miss running out of the tunnel in front of the Carter-Finley faithful, and that he wouldn't forget the key role the school and his coaches played in getting him to where he is at now. "I will always remember being treated well by the people I came across [in Ra- leigh]," he said. "The people that I met dur- ing my time down here, I'm very grateful for those people. … I probably wouldn't be in this position if I went to any other school; I give special thanks to all the coaches that never gave up on me, even when things were looking like they should give up on this kid." Four Wolfpackers Open Season On MLB Rosters Four former NC State players opened the 2017 season on 40-man rosters for big league clubs — Chicago Cubs right-handed pitcher Jake Buchanan, Kansas City Royals right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns (who finished his career at Texas Tech), Chi- cago White Sox left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon and Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner. Buchanan is on the Cubs' 40-man ros- ter but not on the active one and opened his campaign in the minors, while Rodon started the season on the 10-day disabled list due to bursitis in his left biceps. Rodon is expected to miss the first five to six weeks of the season, according to general manager Rich Hahn. The 24-year-old went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 165 innings pitched in 28 starts last season. Karns has appeared in two games through April 11, including one start, and has al- lowed five earned runs in 6 1 ⁄3 innings pitched. Meanwhile, Turner — after playing out of position in the outfield last year and finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting despite just 307 at-bats (win- ner Corey Seager had 627) — is back at his natural shortstop position and opened the season in the leadoff spot for Washing- ton. Through five games, he was hitting .158 with a double and three stolen bases in three chances before leaving the team's April 8 game with a hamstring pull that landed him on the 10-day disabled list. "He's definitely a new star," Nationals manager Dusty Baker told The Washington Times. "Fifty stolen bases this season is pos- sible," the newspaper wrote. "They could go along with a .300 batting average and 20 home runs. Baker has argued that Turner is among the best leadoff hitters in baseball, if not at the top." There have been only 19 seasons in major league history where a player has posted 20 home runs and 50 stolen bases (the most recent coming in 2007) — and Turner not only has the capability to post such numbers, but he was called "an easy choice" to be the NL MVP if he does so by SiriusXM MLB Network radio host Eduardo Perez. "Trea Turner is this good," he said. "You don't see this type of player come along often, and he's going to do it." T.J. Warren Returns To End NBA Season With A Bang Despite missing nearly a month of action from Nov. 19-Dec. 15 with a head injury, Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren returned to action with a vengeance and was play- ing some of the best all-around basketball of his professional career before his third NBA campaign wrapped up April 11. He started the season hot — not counting the Nov. 18 game where he played just nine minutes before missing time, he averaged 19.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in the season's first 12 contests. He has gotten stronger each month since returning. In eight games played in Decem- ber, he averaged 9.8 points, 3.4 rebounds 0.6 assists. After the calendar flipped to 2017, he played in 14 January games and upped his clips to 10.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Another bump came in February, when he posted averages of 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 12 contests, before he enjoyed arguably the best all- around month of his professional career, logging 17.1 points, an impressive 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in 14 March contests. The best month-long rebounding average of his career before that was 6.0 in Octo- ber 2016, when he played in four games — that (21.3 points per game) and April 2017 (18.2-point average in five games) were also the only months he posted a bet- ter points-per-game clip. His average of 2.9 offensive boards per game in March was the most by a perimeter player in the league, according to ArizonaSports.com, who quoted head coach Earl Watson as saying Warren's rebounding IQ was "at an all-time high level." Warren also posted four of his six career double-doubles in March, while his 1.6 assists for the month had been topped just once (April 2015, 1.9 in seven games). During the regular season, Warren started 59 times in 66 appearances while averaging 31.0 minutes, 14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.1 assists and 0.6 blocks per contest. All stand as career-best clips for an entire season. He also made 49.5 percent of his shots from the field, which ranked 28th in the league. ■ Warren played in 66 of the Suns' 82 games during the 2016-17 season, and he posted career highs with averages of 31.0 minutes, 14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.1 assists and 0.6 blocks per contest. PHOTO COURTESY PHOENIX SUNS

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