The revolving door that marked Mark Gottfried’s tenure with the NC State basketball team is continuing to swing under new coach Kevin Keatts.
Within a 24-hour span this week, two new transfers came into the program while an incoming recruit announced he is leaving before ever actually arriving.
The newcomers are Sacha Killeya-Jones, a former five-star prospect who spent his first two college seasons at Kentucky, and graduate transfer guard Eric Lockett from Florida International. Their addition briefly put the Wolfpack at 14 scholarship players, one over the NCAA limit.
It was a problem that was solved only hours after Killeya-Jones announced his decision to attend State on Monday when Keatts announced that four-star wing Saddiq Bey has asked for and been granted a release from his scholarship.
“Saddiq is a great kid and we wish him the best of luck in the future,” Keatts said in a statement.
Bey averaged 21 points per game in his senior season at Sidwell Friends School in Washington D.C.
Of the two incoming transfers, Killeya-Jones is by far the bigger catch, in more ways than one. The 6-foot-10 native of Chapel Hill played in 49 games for the Wildcats, but was never able to find a consistent role on one of the nation’s most talented rosters.
He made his decision public Tuesday in a post on social media..
“Extremely excited to announce that I am continuing my academic and athletic career at NC State University,” he wrote on Twitter.
Killeya-Jones averaged 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game while shooting 58.4 percent from the field in just over 13 minutes per game as a sophomore last season while playing a backup role to starter Nick Richards.
He had one of his best games in Kentucky’s NCAA tournament opener against Davidson, in which he contributed eight points and six rebounds in 24 minutes to his team’s 78-73 victory.
Killeya-Jones will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Wolfpack, but will have to sit out the 2018-19 season under NCAA transfer rules.
“I truly believe Sacha was just starting to find out who he is and that his best days are ahead of him,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a release issued last month. “I still believe that whether he’s here or someone else.”
Unlike Killeya-Jones, Lockett will be eligible to play immediately, since he has already earned his undergraduate degree.
A 6-5 guard who also played a season each at George Mason and Chipola Junior College, averaged 14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists for FIU, Lockett is looked upon as a veteran replacement for last year’s grad transfer Allerik Freeman.
He will be one of five transfers on the Wolfpack’s roster next season, joining C.J. Bryce from UNC Wilmington, Devon Daniels from Utah, Blake Harris from Missouri and graduate Wyatt Walker from Samford.