The preseason attention on Mark Gottfried’s NC State Basketball program continues to garner positive press for the Wolfpack and our players.
RALEIGH, N.C. â€“ NC State junior forward C.J. Leslie was named to The Sporting Newsâ€™ preseason All-America second-team the publication announced today.
Leslie led the Wolfpack in scoring last season with 14.7 points per game and was one of three ACC players to rank in the top 10 in scoring (ninth), field goal percentage (third – .525) and rebounding (eighth â€“ 7.1 rpg). He was an ACC All-Tournament first team selection as well as an All-ACC second team member.
Leslie and his Wolfpack teammates officially open the 2012-13 season next Friday, Oct. 12, with Primetime With The Pack presented by PNC. The event begins at 7 p.m., with PNC Arena doors opening at 6 p.m. Admission and parking is free.
On a related note, SFN tweeted Athlon’s #11 pre-season ranking for the Wolfpack earlier this morning. (If you don’t follow us on Twitter than you have to right now!! CLICK HERE!) The primary focus of the article revolves around CJ Leslie’s maturity:
After an uneven freshman season, junior C.J. Leslie delivered on the spectacular promise of his prep career as a sophomore. Leslie, a wiry, athletic 6-9 forward, led the Pack in scoring (14.7 ppg) and blocked shots (1.6 bpg) and ranked second in rebounding (7.3 rpg).
The inconsistencies, and mood swings, from his freshman campaign were gone, replaced with maturity, and Leslie got better as the season progressed. He averaged 17.1 points over the final 16 games, about five points per game better than he averaged over the first half of the season.
It is really weird to say that a #11 ranking for the Wolfpack is the lowest I’ve seen in pre-season publications. As a point of historical reference for many fans, a #11 ranking for ONE SINGLE WEEK was the highest NC State ever achieved in TEN YEARS of the ‘great’ Herb Sendek tenure. (That ranking was achieved based on the back of a weak non-conference schedule that soon gave way to playing in the ACC and a plummet out of the polls and any national relevance.)
No pre-season topic about CJ Leslie can be complete without highlighting this fantastic piece recently published in Sports Illustrated. The following is just a small excerpt:
C.J. Leslie skipped his very first class at N.C. State. His absence was promptly reported to the school’s new athletic director Debbie Yow.
“I was alarmed and I asked that someone find him and have him meet me at my office,” Yow recalls. “He came in and I said, ‘Hey, it’s Day 1 and you just missed a class and I’m really worried and we’re going to have lunch together and talk about this.'”
Yow had ordered Leslie a turkey sandwich from Subway. Leslie told her, “I don’t eat Subway.”
Yow stared back at Leslie incredulously and said, “OK, I’m going to eat my sandwich and you’ve got some potato chips and a cookie, so you eat that and we’ll talk about school.”
“He was quiet,” Yow recalls. “He was withdrawn. I made him give me his cell number before he left so he knew I’d be keeping up with him.”
“She wanted to get to know me,” Leslie says. “I can’t say that I wanted to get to know her.”
It was hardly an auspicious beginning.
Freshman year didn’t go too smoothly for Leslie on the basketball court, either. N.C. State struggled to a 15-16 record. Leslie had a tendency to show up late for practice and then coast through drills and he was even suspended from the Wolfpack’s game at Duke for violating a team rule. Leslie clearly didn’t get along with coach Sidney Lowe, who was enduring his last of five mostly disappointing seasons at N.C. State. Leslie often displayed the same frustrated scowl he’d worn all those years losing to his brothers in the yard, but he couldn’t just run off with the ball anymore. “It wasn’t a good year,” Leslie says. “I wasn’t happy. I don’t think anybody was happy. That’s all I want to say about it.”
As the team’s most talented player, Leslie became the primary scapegoat for the Wolfpack’s failed season. “The media wrote that he was a hard, ruthless person who didn’t care,” Lisa says. “But they never saw him behind closed doors after a game looking like he had lost his best friend. Nobody likes to be talked about like that, but he’s a man and he didn’t want to be seen running around looking for a pity party. I wanted to say ‘Look, that’s not really my kid that you all are bashing. Did you ever actually try to get to know him?’ It was a hard pill to swallow because I knew how much C.J. cared.”
Leslie found his only refuge in, of all places, Yow’s office. A few weeks after their initial meeting, Yow invited Leslie back for a follow-up conversation.
“We talked again and Miss Yow told me a little about her life story and I found out that she hasn’t always had it easy either,” Leslie says. “She had the same situation as me. When she first got to N.C. State people talked negative about her, too. We just had a connection.”