Skip to content

Top 25 Countdown: No. 8 NC State

Oct 24, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT

Mark Gottfried AP

Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 24-13, 9-7 ACC (t-4th); Lost in the Sweet 16 to Kansas

Head Coach: Mark Gottfried

Key Losses: DeShawn Painter, CJ Williams

Newcomers: TJ Warren, Tyler Lewis, Rodney Purvis

Projected Lineup:

G: Lorenzo Brown, Jr.
G: Rodney Purvis, Fr.
F: Scott Wood, Sr.
F: CJ Leslie, Jr.
C: Richard Howell, Sr.
Bench: Tyler Lewis, Fr.; TJ Warren, Fr.; Jordan Vandenburg, Jr.

Outlook: There may not be a more polarizing team in the country that NC State this season. I say polarizing because, on paper, this team looks great.

Lorenzo Brown has morphed into one of the best point guards in the country. There really isn’t anything he can’t do at the position. He’s always had the size and athleticism, and last season he showed that he can be a primary scorer and ballhandler. What he’s added over the summer, according to most reports from people that have seen the Wolfpack workout, is that Brown has added an elite understanding of what it means to be a ‘point guard’. And with plenty of talent around him this season, the importance of his ability to get everyone shots cannot be understated.

Brown isn’t the only star on the NC State roster, as CJ Leslie is primed to have a monster season. Leslie entered the NC State program as a lanky, athletic forward, but he’s developed his game to the point that it wouldn’t be shocking to see him average 16 or 17 points this year. Leslie still has plenty of doubters, but I think that it’s important to note that he’ll be the sidekick this year. This is Brown’s team, and part of what makes Brown so good and Leslie so promising is that Leslie is going to get eight or ten points a night simply by catching and finishing opportunities created by Brown.

The Wolfpack got huge news back in mid-September when it was announced that the NCAA had granted NC State’s appeal and freshman Rodney Purvis was cleared to play this season. That had been in question, and the talented two-guard didn’t make the trip to Europe with the team. The addition of Purvis is important because he’s talented enough to create his own shot and get 15 or 20 points no a night when Brown and Leslie are struggling. Having that third threat to score is important, keeping defenses honest. The same can be said for TJ Warren, a wing that will play a similar role to what Deshaun Thomas played for Ohio State his freshman season.

Tyler Lewis, the third talented freshmen that Gottfried brought in this season, will back up Brown at the point, while Scott Wood will be the designated floor-spreader. The 6-foot-7 Wood hit 40.9% from beyond the arc as a junior.

The biggest issue NC State has from a personnel issue will be front court depth. Richard Howell, who averaged 10.3 points and 9.2 boards as a junior last season, is back and will start alongside Leslie, but with Deshawn Painter’s decision to transfer closer to his southern Virginia home, the Wolfpack are lacking big men. 7-foot-1 junior Jordan Vandenburg will likely be the first guy off the bench for Gottfried, while sophomore Thomas de Thaey will see some emergency minutes.

There is plenty of talent here, but the questions that most have regarding this team are a) whether or not Mark Gottfried is the guy that can bring that talent together, and b) if NC State is being overrated because of a pair of wins that came in the NCAA tournament.

Gottfried had a respectable tenure at Alabama, winning a couple of division titles in the SEC and making the Elite 8 one season. But he was hardly considered an elite coach during his time there and even fielded a couple of talented-but-disappointing teams. After spending a couple of seasons sitting at a desk at ESPN and making a move to Raliegh, he’s all of a sudden supposed to be able to turn the talent on his roster into wins?

It’s not exactly like last season was a shining example of coaching acumen. The Wolfpack finished 22-12 in the regular season and 9-7 in a top heavy ACC, managing to grab one of the last at-large bids in one of the weakest NCAA tournament fields in recent memory. They went just 1-6 against NCAA tournament teams from the ACC, and their only two wins over tournament teams in non-conference play came against UNC Asheville and Texas, when Longhorn star J’Covan Brown got a technical and was ejected with eight minutes left, completely changing the course of the game. NC State was down 18 in the second half of that game.

Just because they won two games in March means we’re supposed to forget the rest of the season happened?

That’s why this team is doubted by many. And that’s why there are people that believe this ranking will be too high.

Predictions?: Me? I believe in this group. I think there are going to be plenty of kinks to work out. I’m not sure how well Purvis is going to accept being third or fourth fiddle offensively, and Warren coming off the bench could be an issue as well. Any foul trouble up front will be worrisome. As talented as Leslie and Brown as, neither one has really shown that killer instinct; NC State blew a lot of leads last season (most notably a 20 point second half lead at Duke), which is worrisome. But this is a new year, and there is talent on this roster. I think the Wolfpack, who have a cushy ACC schedule, win the conference and get to at least the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Baylor forward will leave the program

    Aug 3, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Baylor is losing a reserve forward to transfer.

  2. Report: Four-star forward could choose a school soon

    Aug 3, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/adidas) (Kelly Kline/adidas)

    Mamadi Diakite, a four-star forward, could decide between three schools soon, per a report.

  3. Fixing his flaws: How Kris Dunn has attacked the two weaknesses in his game

    Aug 3, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    There are two glaring weaknesses to Kris Dunn’s game. Here’s how he’s gone about trying to fix them this summer.

  4. Penn State lands their most important recruit in a decade in Tony Carr

    Aug 3, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT

    chambers Getty Images

    Tony Carr is a four-star point guard that picked Penn State over Maryland, SMU and Providence.

  5. Investigation funded by Illinois clears Illinois women’s coaches of racism claims

    Aug 3, 2015, 12:29 PM EDT

    Matt Bollant (AP Photo) AP

    The investigation was conducted by an outside law firm and paid for by the university.

  6. Five-star guard Rawle Alkins cuts his list to ten

    Aug 3, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Alkins might be the best player from New York City since Lance Stephenson.

  7. Michigan announces non-conference schedule

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The schedule isn’t the best you’ll see this season, but it’s pretty solid nonetheless.

  8. Four-star 2016 combo guard cuts list to four

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    St. John’s remains under consideration for the Brooklyn native.

  9. 2018 power forward Jontay Porter commits to Washington

    Aug 2, 2015, 6:37 PM EDT

    Lorenzo Romar AP

    He’s the younger brother of five-star 2017 forward Michael Porter Jr., and Michael Sr. considered joining the Washington staff this spring.

  10. UTEP adds four-star forward Brodricks Jones, former San Diego State commit

    Aug 2, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT

    Tim Floyd AP

    With Vince Hunter in the professional ranks and Matt Willms dealing with a foot issue, this is an important pickup for the Miners.

  11. Report: Two official visits set for five-star Class of 2016 shooting guard

    Aug 2, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    markelle fultz

    Markelle Fultz will take two official visits once he leaves adidas Nations.

  12. POSTERIZED: Wenyen Gabriel dunks on defender at adidas Nations

    Aug 2, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    Wenyen Gabriel’s tremendous summer only got better with this off-handed throw down on a defender.

  13. Xavier gets commitment from four-star guard

    Aug 2, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Xavier added another piece in the 2016 class with a guard commitment.

  14. N.C. State secures commitment from four-star 2015 wing

    Aug 2, 2015, 12:33 PM EDT

    Mark Gottfried (AP Photo) Mark Gottfried (AP Photo)

    N.C. State added a dynamic wing scorer late in their 2015 recruiting efforts on Sunday as reclassified 6-foot-7 wing Maverick Rowan committed to the Wolfpack. A three-level scorer, Rowan was previously committed to Pitt and later backed off of his pledge to the Panthers before deciding to move up a grade by taking two summer…

  15. Texas A&M finishes 2015 recruiting efforts with late guard commitment

    Aug 2, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Texas A&M finished off a tremendous 2015 recruiting class with one more combo guard.

  16. 2017 power forward/center verbally commits to Arkansas

    Aug 2, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Mike Anderson AP

    After a rough July that included suspensions and a recruit heading to prep school, Arkansas received some good news on the first day of August.

  17. Three-star shooting guard becomes Wake Forest’s second 2016 commitment

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Danny Manning AP

    Brandon Childress, son of Wake Forest great Randolph Childress, was the first commit in the class for the Demon Deacons.

  18. Former Weber State, D-League assistant Phil Beckner joins Nebraska coaching staff

    Aug 1, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics

    Praised for his ability as both a coach and recruiter, Beckner also helped develop Damian Lillard into a lottery pick.

  19. Three-star power forward trims list to five

    Aug 1, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT

    Rivals.com Rivals.com

    Childs played well with the Utah Prospects in Las Vegas during the final evaluation period.