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Meet Brandon Huntley-Hatfield

Kevin Keatts is somehow bumping right now on the recruiting trail while also coaching a team in the Final Four. Truly a Keatts of all trades right now. The Pack has landed Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, a big from Louisville who comes with one year of eligibility after recording eight double-doubles in 2023-24.

This is a big pickup for the Pack. This guy is good at basketball, and he is a good fit for the spread pick-and-roll offense. Huntley-Hatfield should start at the 5 next year for Kevin Keatts, and he has a chance to be the best roll man Keatts has rostered in Raleigh. State likely reverts back to a higher-volume pick-and-roll team next season, and this addition really strengthens that proposition for the Wolfpack. 

With Burns exiting, Keatts will look to eschew the inside-out system as a primary producer of offense. It worked really well this year thanks to the best post-up player in America and one of the best players period. The skill set of DJ Burns is not easily replicable, thus the system is unsustainable. It is time once again for Kevin Keatts to adjust, and this early recruiting win is a major boon to a four-out-one-in spread system. 

This style of offense has frustrated fans at times because of its tendency to produce poor shots, but as has always been the case with Keatts, that’s a product of the personnel. Keatts has not been particularly successful at filling the 5 spot in this style of offense. Yurtseven was dynamite, but only stayed a year. Funderburk was solid and a great athlete, but was still very much developing a scoring package. Ben Middlebrooks is probably the third best pick-and-roll 5 Keatts has had, and he’s a bench player. 

The perfect big for this offense is a lengthy athlete who can move well, post up and score, and work a little pick-and-pop as well. Huntley-Hatfield checks a lot of these boxes. He’s gigantic at 6’10 240, and he moves well for his size. He displayed a pretty advanced scoring package which spiked his interior scoring game to new heights this season when he averaged almost 13 points a game and shot over 57%. 

Louisville was pretty comfortable posting him up and feeding him, and he can absolutely function this way, although I think he’s better in the pick-and-roll (Louisville averaged 0.88 points per possession on pure post-ups, but a much more acceptable 1.03 PPP with him in the PnR). He's versatile, though, and there is a ton to like about his game. Louisville was one of the worst-coached teams in America, and it wasted some pretty solid talent, BHH included. I think it's fair to expect another big step forward next year when the big man joins a much more cohesive basketball team.

Pure post-up game

Huntley-Hatfield is large and physical, and he can use his size to create space. He’s comfortable going into the chest of defenders and getting to a baby hook or a short fadeaway, and he has good touch in the paint to score over said defenders. That touch plus the size and length of the man makes these shots very hard to defend. I’m not sure how much State is going to try and play inside-out, but he’s capable here. He’s also good at establishing low-post position.

Pick and roll 

I’m expecting a high volume of Huntley-Hatfield as the 5 man in the pick-and-roll, and he’s built for this. This is why I am so excited for the way he fits into what State wants to do. Being able to combine a good athletic profile that can play above the rim with a post-up game is not something State has had recently. He can catch a pocket pass at the free throw line and score over a roller tag, he can crash the rim and catch a lob, and he can post up deep in the paint and earn position if a hedge forces a reset. He understands how to roll well, and that plus his combo of athleticism and scoring skill is going to help State create a lot of opportunities in the paint with him. There is a reason why State wanted this guy. It hasn't had a guy with this kind of skillset in a minute.

Away from the paint

Huntley-Hatfield is not a high volume shooter, but he’s not completely absent a jumpshot. He’s more than capable of extending baseline on dribble drives and punishing help with a mid-range jumpshot. He made 9 threes on 21 attempts this season, so he was basically a non-shooter as far as the scouting report goes, but a big that can be effective popping and rolling is something Keatts has never really had. There isn’t really a lot of reason to believe that Huntley-Hatfield will become a useful shooter at a high volume other than I just really really really want him to be and am trying to speak it into existence, but he has made enough jumpers to give me fuel for my constant delusion that the next Omer Yurtseven is coming. 

Beyond the shot, though, Huntley-Hatfield can face up and handle the ball some, which allows him to attack closeouts and get to rim off of pick-and-pop, so you can still find some effectiveness in a variety of ball screen actions, even if he isn’t going to be an efficient shooter. 


I expect Huntley-Hatfield to be a strong defender in Raleigh. I’m not sure he was great in the ball screen defense at Louisville, but Louisville’s ball screen defense was a joke. He’s built to cover ball screens, but he was on a horribly coached basketball team. 

He doesn’t have much of a history as a rim protector, but as a guy who moves well and has great length, you can do things like bring him to the level of the screen while not fearing a blow-by. Length is important to be able to contest shots near the rim against the quicker ball-handlers, and he has length. Length helps a switch defender for the same reason, and he’ll probably allow switching one through five against certain teams. 


One of the most exciting parts of his game is his rebounding. Board man gets paid, as Kawhi Leonard once said, and he’s a board man. The concept of him at the five and Diarra at the four is pretty fun to think about. Unfortunately, there is only one rebound per missed shot, although these guys may challenge that long-held belief. He had double-digit boards 10 times this season


Huntley-Hatfield is really good. He’s a really good player who fits into what State wants to do really well. He is going to start at the 5 with Diarra at the 4, and that will give you an extremely athletic, lengthy 4 and 5 that can do some real damage on the boards. Don't let the lack of publicity he created fool you. That is a product of Louisville. This kid is good. He opens up some things for State offensively and defensively that it didn't have this year and hasn't really had much of in the past seven years. I think we've always been straight shooters at Trinity Road Times. I'll print this article off and eat it live on the internet if I'm wrong, but I'm convinced this is a big deal.


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