As the countdown continues today we are going to talk about one of the most surprising players in the ACC last season, DJ Funderburk shows up at #24.
After originally committing to Ohio State in the class of 2016, Funderburk went JUCO before ever playing a game for the Buckeyes. He landed at Northwest Florida State where he averaged 11.5 points and 5 rebounds per game. He also hoisted 68 triples at the JUCO level as DJ was originally recruited as a 3/4 hybrid type player. He shot under 30% on that season.
Fast forward to last season when there were more questions than answers surrounding Funderburk and what he would be able to provide Kevin Keatts and the Wolfpack as far as production. DJ laid waste to those concerns in the out of conference, averaging 8.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game in just 16.5 minutes per contest. His efforts were rewarded during the conference slate, playing 22 minutes per game where he churned out 9.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks. H cut down on the triple attempts and took high percentage shots and became tremendously effective. He was the only player in the ACC last season to play over 600 minutes and average a field goal percentage over 55% and shoot better than 78% from the line. Only six others in the entire country accomplished that feat.
Here is the other thing I love about DJ:
Yes, the dunk is nice, but watch how he gets that open. He and Okeke both start from almost the exact same spot on the Wake Forest end. DJ knows exactly where to go. He didn’t even run that hard, but took the basket line right to the rim for the easy jam. Now, Okeke is no track star, but DJ still gets him by a car length or two. If he runs hard, it will be difficult for a lot of ACC bigs to keep up with him.
Coming into this season, the Wolfpack will be heavily reliant upon Funderburk, as front court mates Wyatt Walker and Torin Dorn have moved, on as has incoming transfer Sacha Killeya-Jones before ever playing for the Pack. Manny Bates, a former top 100 recruit, is set to make his debut, but is unproven. Pat Andree, a graduate transfer from Lehigh, is eligible and while he is a decent rebounder at the the CAA level, he is neither a rim protector, nor a “traditional big.”
All those things point to DJ logging heavy minutes as the only true big man on the team, which brings us to his only major weakness, 5.9. As in, 5.9 fouls per 40 minutes played. His ability to stay on the court is paramount to the Pack dancing for the second time in three seasons. If he can do that, and continue to progress as he did last season, North Carolina State could be looking at a double bye and a nice month of March.