CJ Leslie: TSN pre-season All-American & more

The preseason attention on Mark Gottfried’s NC State Basketball program continues to garner positive press for the Wolfpack and our players.

Today,

RALEIGH, N.C. – NC State junior forward C.J. Leslie was named to The Sporting News’ 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 – 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 As a point of historical reference for many fans, a #11 ranking for ONE SINGLE WEEK was the highest NC State ever achieved in TEN YEARS of the ‘great’ Herb Sendek tenure.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.”

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13 Responses to CJ Leslie: TSN pre-season All-American & more

  1. nav 10/02/2012 at 10:54 AM #

    As most long time State fans, somewhere in the back of my cognitive centers, I can’t help but to wonder when the plummet to Earth will start. We’ve been riding this wave of good news since last March and it’s just not natural I tell you.

  2. El Scrotcho 10/02/2012 at 11:08 AM #

    Is it wrong of me to offer up a disappointing football season as a sacrifice to appease the gods, so that we can continue riding that wave in basketball?

  3. wilmwolf80 10/02/2012 at 11:26 AM #

    As a lifelong State fan, all of this positive press definitely makes me feel very uneasy. I’m sure there are many like myself that were too young to really experience the glory years, and all we have ever really known is being down in the doldrums. Hopefully we get to experience a culture change, but for now, the negativeness is so ingrained in my brain, it’s hard to accept all the praise and positiveness without that old doubt creeping in.

  4. TheAliasTroll 10/02/2012 at 11:48 AM #

    If CJL has a monster year this season it would not only be great for the 2012-13 team, but would also serve to solidify the staff’s pitch to potential recruits that if they choose NC State their skills can be improved dramatically.

  5. Lunatic Fringe 10/02/2012 at 12:02 PM #

    Is it wrong of me to offer up a disappointing football season as a sacrifice to appease the gods, so that we can continue riding that wave in basketball? — El Scorcho
    ——————————————

    Imagines El Scorcho huddled around with Perdro Cerrano sacrificing a NC State football.

    “I ask Jobu to come, take fear from ‘Pack’”

  6. MP 10/02/2012 at 12:14 PM #

    I echo LifeLongWolf and Khan from the other post… My first thought seeing this about CJL was “oh no”…

    But I’ve come to love CJL for being such a good representative of the Wolfpack, and I’m changing my tune. I think he’s up to the challenge.

  7. state73 10/02/2012 at 12:20 PM #

    I am happy for CJL. Hope he stays grounded and builds on last year, unlike Amerson.

  8. old13 10/02/2012 at 12:23 PM #

    From what little I’ve been able to glean so far, this team, including RP, seems to already have a good chemistry – and I thought this before the Spain trip. I think this was a key factor in last year’s success. So, hopefully, it is true of this team, which would bode well for the season.

    Oh, and there’s DY keeping it all together, nipping problems in the bud, and still winning over the athletes – remember her hug with CJL after the NCAA game last season!

  9. Hungwolf 10/02/2012 at 12:34 PM #

    All American player, C J Leslie and All American Assistant Coach Bobby Lutz on the the bench. Looking forward to a great season. Could have done without hearing the name Sendek!

  10. JSRy2k 10/02/2012 at 12:44 PM #

    Yes MP, “oh no” has to go!

    I believe CJL will have a strong year. He seems to have undergone sufficient personal transformation. But here’s his test: success. Wolfpack, can you take your previous success and grow it?

  11. LifeLongWolf 10/02/2012 at 1:12 PM #

    I too have no idea how to react to this positive press. I suspect (hope!) that Gott and Co. know how to deal with it and will have the kids’ heads on straight. For me, I’m gonna go think lots of negative thoughts, and I’m gonna tell everyone I talk to that I think we are over-rated. Maybe that will cancel out the positive news. Does anyone know how to sacrifice something to the Injury God to keep him/her/it happy?

  12. logarithm 10/02/2012 at 8:22 PM #

    I have to say the PR campaign that changed the widely accepted perception about CJ Leslie is one of the most impressive accomplishments so far for Yow and Gottfried’s coaching staff. Everybody was on top of the world when he and his recruiting class committed, it was vastly disappointing and turned into downright certainty that he was nothing near what we expected. Then they added the uncertainty of firing a head coach, hiring a guy who hadn’t coached in 6 years and had left his last job under a cloud. They changed his name, changed the culture so he was made to rise to his potential and everybody loves him now. Credit to CJ for never giving up.

  13. wufpup76 10/02/2012 at 9:58 PM #

    I definitely know where the anxiety comes from, guys and gals, but not this time.

    This is going to go well.

    New attitude. New sheriffs. New vision.

    Everything is changing. It’s a brave new world.

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