NC State Basketball: Wolfpack lands Butler transfer guard Jayden Taylor

Butler guard Jayden Taylor announced his commitment to NC State on Tuesday, the first major transfer addition of the offseason for Head Coach Kevin Keatts.

With Jarkel Joiner out of eligibility and Terquavion Smith off to the NBA, the Wolfpack are losing nearly 35 points per game in the backcourt. Taylor will help replace a portion of that. The 6-foot-4 combo guard averaged 12.9 points per game for Butler last season, with that number jumping to 17.9 points per game in a starting role in February.

Taylor is a shifty, athletic guard who shot 32% from 3-point range as a sophomore. He is a proven scorer, although not the most consistent shooter. That number has room for improvement though, which would be a significant boost to his production.

He ranked sixth in the Big East in fouls drawn per 40 minutes last season and is an excellent free-throw shooter at 77.6%.

Taylor is also a solid defender with good athleticism and length. He has the potential to be one of the most versatile perimeter defenders in the ACC if he wants to be.

As a proven scorer and reliable defender, Taylor will be an immediately valuable addition for NC State. That said, he has room to improve as a passer, which would make him significantly more threatening out of high ball screens.

NC State roster outlook, other notable transfer portal targets

Both DJ Burns and Casey Morsell are expected to return for one final season, although neither has officially announced their intentions. If both do return, it would take the pressure off Keatts and his staff to have to replace an entire starting five in one offseason.

That said, the Pack would still have some glaring needs to be addressed through the portal. With Jack Clark transferring, they lack a four-man to put beside Burns. Ideally, it would be a floor-spacer who would not actually be physically beside Burns, clogging up the paint. Look for NC State to pursue Charlotte transfer Brice Williams (13.8 PPG) to fill that role.

Ernest Ross also showed flashes of potential last season, but his inability to shoot makes him and Burns a questionable frontcourt pairing to play extended minutes together. Williams would give Keatts much-needed versatility.

Although Taylor will replace some of the production lost in Smith and Joiner’s departures, he’ll need help in the backcourt. Sophomore LJ Thomas and four-star shooting guard Trey Parker will provide some relief, but Keatts would like to add a proven high-major scorer, for obvious reasons.

State has been notably interested in Louisville’s El Ellis, who has declared for the NBA Draft while entering the transfer portal. Ellis averaged 17.7 points per game last season and was virtually the only bright spot in a historically bad season for the Cardinals. If Ellis returns to college, NC State will be heavily involved.

Arizona State transfer DJ Horne has also been at the top of NC State’s target list since he entered the portal. Horne averaged 12.5 points per game for Arizona State last season, and is from the Raleigh area, playing high school ball at Trinity Christian. Horne had an official visit with Wake Forest this past Sunday and will be in Raleigh for an official visit this weekend.

Horne hit four or more 3-pointers in a game eight times last season. He’s the guy you don’t help off of.