Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dunks That Do Not Count For $500 Alex

Last season was a painful year for college basketball in Raleigh.  At the beginning of the season my Wolfpack were predicted to be competitive in the ACC with several talented returning veterans along with two super freshman.  One of the freshman was an international recruit from Turkey, Omer Yurtseven, while the other was Dennis Smith Jr., a point guard from Fayetteville.

I got to see Smith's first regular season college game last fall against Georgia Southern in Raleigh.  Not Dennis Smith Jr.'s best game, but still enjoyable to see him play in person.  Yurtseven was ineligible because of something for the first seven game of the year and never really got going last season.  He will be back with NC State next season.  

Smith got a lot better as the season went along.  It started out with a few dunks during the non-conference schedule against a few cupcakes......


and then there was a triple-double against Virginia Tech at the beginning of conference play.....


The highlight of State's season though had to be a win against Duke at Cameron Indoor.  It's hard to imagine that the Wolfpack went from a win against a local rival, in one of the most hostile road environments in all of college basketball, to being a team that lost to Wake Forest by 30 something a few weeks later.  The coach, Mark Gottfried, was fired.  

Let's stick to the Duke game for a second.  The game featured Smith's most iconic shot in his single season at NC State.  It didn't even count, but it put an exclamation point on a great win.  I post a lot of videos in my posts, but I have to go with a picture of the dunk first.....


It is a thing of beauty to see that many Duke students with their hands on their heads in the background.  I don't mind Duke as much as I mind the Tar Heels, but still it's a great thing to see a State player get that sort of reaction.  Here is the video.....


Again, the dunk was after the buzzer.  

As a Wolfpack alumni and fan I feel like the basketball program really squandered Smith's talents during his single season in school.  I am sure that he is going to be a great NBA player and is currently projected to be a top 10 draft pick.  In some of the mock drafts he's even been projected as a top five pick.  

Luckily I found a keepsake of Dennis Smith Jr. in cardboard form.  One of the best parts of attending an NC State game is visiting the promotional table which is usually filled with all sorts of pocket schedules and team posters.  Last few years the school has also been giving out basketball cards. 

Its provided a great opportunity to find cards of players who will likely end up in Europe, D-League, or just becoming a normal person and not in the NBA.  Players like Cat Barber, Ralston Turner, Scott Wood, and BeeJay Anya have all been happy additions to my collection......

and while Dennis Smith will definitely be in the NBA, and definitely have plenty of basketball cards, I am not sure that I am going to go crazy tracking down cards of a basketball player who is a top draft pick.  I am just imagining his cards as being pricy.  So, for the moment my NC State basketball card of Dennis Smith Jr. will have to live with this one sweet Wolfpack card for awhile.....



I have actually considered making some of these cards that have been given away at games into a set project.  The team gives away one per game, and while the bigger names that have played at State like Dennis Smith and T.J. Warren are fairly easy to find, there are other players who are tougher to find.  I am about to knock out a few of the set projects I have listed up at the top, this idea is getting some serious consideration....

State also has given out cards at other sporting events too, most importantly baseball.  However.....


Unfortunately people who have the baseball cards for sale online are asking incredibly ridiculous prices.  I mean, I am a big fan of Trea Turner, but not for $365.  Welp, I guess I am sticking with the basketball card sets for the moment.  











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