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Meet Dontrez Styles

NC State is back on the transfer portal scoreboard with Dontrez Styles, an NC product who previously played at Georgetown and nowhere else. I kid of course. Some people will inevitably be weird about adding Styles because he played for a terrible Georgetown team or because he played for UNC, but I recommend getting over yourself and just watching the tape. This guy can play. 

When you talk about Kevin Keatts’ “system,” that has traditionally been a four-out one-in approach that leans on a high volume of pick-and-roll sets. State got away from this to build around DJ Burns, but it does appear to be building back towards it with its first two transfer portal additions, both of which fit into such a system like a hand in a glove. 

We already talked about Huntley-Hatfield having a chance to be the best roll man Keatts has rostered. The same projection for Styles as a small-ball four has legs. It’s not hard to see why Keatts wanted this guy so badly and was willing to continue chasing him. He’s pretty close to the prototypical Kevin Keatts wing. 

What you want with this type of spread offense at the four, which at times is interchangeable with the three (both are just wings essentially), is a tall athlete who can shoot threes. This role spends a lot of time spacing the floor out of the corner, as well as popping out of staggered screen sets like 77 and zoom. David Joplin out of Marquette was a quintessential example. 

Styles is this. He’s 6’6, a strong athlete, and he can most certainly shoot the three. Last year at Georgetown was the first year of his career where he played any significant minutes, and he shot 37% from beyond the arc at a pretty high volume. He attempted less than three triples in just six games all of last year. 

Shooting is definitely his wheelhouse, although he’s not purely a catch-and-shoot guy. He can attack off the bounce, but is definitely more comfortable getting into a step back than getting into the paint. He made 25 unassisted field goals at the rim last year to 30 unassisted mid-range shots. He’s decent at creating leverage off the bounce and attacking closeouts, and he’s strong in the lane, but he can be a bit out of control and turnover prone when attacking the basket. 

He isn’t the most explosive player on earth, but between the hard closeouts he demands, a decent first step, and a really strong frame, the makings are there for a guy who can extend his game to a paint scorer who can finish through contact. We’ll see how his game develops from here, but the worst case is a reliable 3&D guy. 

Styles is also solid on the boards and on the defensive end. Georgetown defensively was pretty entertaining comedy to watch last year, but Styles was generally on time defensively and he’s solid guarding the ball, which he doesn’t necessarily do a ton but may in a more switch-heavy defensive system. 

As mentioned, Styles is one of the better fourth-guard options Keatts has signed at State. There were a lot of similarities between Cooley’s offense at Georgetown and Keatts’ in Raleigh. Styles spent a lot of time in the corner as a floor spacer, but was also used in a variety of three-man pick and roll actions like spain, 77, shake, and more. Spain wasn’t an overly popular action for State this year, but 77 and shake certainly were, among others including just basic high pick and roll with a slot two and two wings in the corners. 

Here's an example of an angle pick-and-roll set where Ed Cooley used an elevation from 24 to clear the rim protection. Help is forced to come of off Styles in the weak side corner, and these are the shots he thrives on.

Here's a standard high spread pick-and-roll set against Connecticut where Styles punishes the help by attacking the long, aggressive closeout and then finishes in the paint.

This is what State will generally want out of him. Space the floor and punish help. Don't be surprised though if he gets iso sets from time to time in the late shot clock. This is definitely a guy who can create his own shot, especially against slower defenders which he may see as part of a smaller lineup. See below.

Most of these sets last year were run with Diarra at the four. I think there is a misconception of the difference between such a lineup versus Styles at the four. Diarra was essentially the fourth guard in a lot of the offense last year that did not involve DJ Burns. He spent a lot of time in the corner, popping on 77 actions, and generally doing guard activities. When Diarra sits down and Styles plays the four for stretches this year, the strengths of the lineup change a little (better spacing, more ball handling, lesser rebounding, less length), but the philosophy isn’t completely rewriting itself from “two bigs” to “small ball.” It is still the same general collection of actions.

I think that’s important to understand because, while State’s philosophy on offense will be changing post-Burns, it’s not changing into something unrecognizable. It still ran all of the stuff that will be included in its base play binder this year, and Styles is a boon to those actions unquestionably. 

State has connected on two big hits in the transfer portal so far. Don’t be tempted to judge either Styles or Brandon Huntley-Hatfield because they came from programs that are carcasses. State has found a couple of difference makers here. There are good players that fit really well into what State will be running next season.



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