New NC State Head Basketball Coach, Mark Gottfried, may have just landed his biggest recruit of his first April signing period with NC State as CJ Leslie will remain in Raleigh for his sophomore season.
Leslie did not have much of an option to turn pro this offseason based on a freshman campaign that clearly did not live up to expectations. On the court, it was obvious that Leslie’s fantastic natural athleticism had served to compensate for weak fundamental basketball skills (like shooting and passing) at less competitive levels. Off the court, clashed with the previous coaching staff as he served at least one suspension during the season for violating team rules (amidst rumors that he was actually kicked off the team and had to be voted back by his teammates.)
I fully believe that Leslie will be helped by another year of development and a different approach by a new coaching staff.
N.C. State forward C.J. Leslie has told the Wolfpack’s coaches that he did not petition the NBA for inclusion in this summer’s draft as an early-entry candidate, team spokeswoman Annabelle Myers said this afternoon. The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft was 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.
Leslie, who’s from Holly Springs and played for Word of God Academy in high school, was named to the ACCall-freshman team last season. He led the Wolfpack in rebounding (7.2 rpg) and was second in scoring (11.0 ppg) only to senior Tracy Smith as N.C. State finished 15-16 in coach Sidney Lowe’s final season.
After the April 5 news conference to announce the hiring of coach Mark Gottfried, Leslie said he wanted to get to know Gottfried better before deciding whether to enter the draft. A 6-foot-8 forward, Leslie joins Lorenzo Brown and Scott Wood to give N.C. State three returning starters in Gottfried’s first season.
Despite Leslie’s weaknesses on the court in his freshman year, his skills and presence make a tremendous difference in the way NC State’s 2011-2012 season will be projected and perceived. If Ryan Harrow also opts to return to NC State (amidst some transfer rumors), the Wolfpack could have enough talent to secure a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Harrow, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, CJ Williams, CJ Leslie, Richard Howell, DeShawn Painter and Jordan Vandenberg provide just enough versatility, experience and talent to generate 20 wins and an NCAA Tournament berth with a little fortune and avoiding injury. Williams, Wood and Leslie’s versatility and interchangeability between multiple positions serve almost as if we had a few more capable bodies on the roster.