CHARLOTTE — Two weeks ago at NC State’s preseason media day, coach Kevin Keatts was asked when he was going to do with all the point guards on his roster.
On Tuesday, the question answered itself when Braxton Beverly suffered a fractured left hand that will force him to miss the start of the upcoming season.
His absence from the lineup will be felt by a Wolfpack team that relies upon both Beverly’s perimeter shooting and a playmaking ability that helped him post the best assist-to-turnover ratio by a freshman in ACC history last season.
But it’s a blow that’s softened considerably by the presence of Markell Johnson, Blake Harris and several others capable of handling the the primary ballhandling duties.
“I’m not going to call it a luxury, because Braxton’s out,” Keatts said. “I’m a little sad because he’s not there.
“But I’ve tried to tell you I don’t have point guards, I have combo guards. Look at Markell, he played the two as a freshman. Same thing Blake. That being said, Markell and Blake have to have a great nonconference until Braxton can get back.”
Beverly suffered the injury at practice on Friday and underwent surgery to repair the damage on Tuesday. Keatts, speaking at the ACC’s Operation Basketball media event at Spectrum Arena, said that the procedure went well.
While he didn’t put a timetable on Beverly’s return, the coach said he hoped the 6-foot sophomore would be back by “the middle of the nonconference” schedule in December. If not sooner.
“If I could find a way to get him on the court before that time I would love to,” Keatts said.
One reason why Keatts is so anxious to get Beverly back on the court is his 3-point shooting. He was second on the team with 60 last season while averaging 9.5 points and 3.9 assists per game.
The next highest total among the Wolfpack’s returning players was 27 by Johnson, who also led the team in assists with 190. Although Johnson took 90 less shots from beyond the arc than Beverly, he did make a respectable 40.9 percent of his 66 attempts.
Harris, on the other hand, attempted only seven 3-pointers — missing all of them — in 14 games for Missouri last season before transferring to State.
Among the other backcourt options available to Keatts are Utah transfer Devon Daniels and Florida International graduate transfer Eric Lockett.
“Braxton is a major piece of what we did last year, so it’s definitely tough to see him go down,” said senior wing Torin Dorn, who figures to be used in multiple roles both before and Beverly returns. “I think he’ll come back just as good if not better than he was. He’ll be back soon.
“It’s good that those other guys will get some experience with Braxton out. We’re going to need everybody if we’re going to make a run.”