Derek Whittenburg, a key player on the 1983 NC State national championship team, is returning to Raleigh to join the men’s basketball coaching staff.
Whittenburg is a DeMatha (MD) graduate, a Morgan Wooten product and it showed on the courtÂ He came to State possessing solid basketball fundamentals and experience, and was a highly recruited second-team high school All-American.Â He was also a three sport man who played quarterback for the football team, and was a pitcher and third baseman.Â It could be there that he first developed his leadership skills, something that ultimately led him to coaching.
As a player at NC State, he was tough as nails. “If somebody wasn’t working hard, I would jump them,” Whittenburg [told Gopack.com's Tim Peeler] with no small amount of pride. “If they weren’t warming up hard, I would jump them. If they weren’t lifting weights hard, I would jump them. I was much more of the in-your-face kind of guy.”
Whittenburg, a streaky shooter, had to struggle to find his place on the team, and often found himself playing behind Kenny Matthews during his early years in Raleigh.Â Eventually, he worked — and work is best operative word — onto the starting team, but still he was playing second fiddle as “the other shooting guard.”Â Over the course of the infamous 1982-83 season, his outside shooting would save the Wolfpack from certain doom time after time.Â His on-court play moved him from second fiddle to right-hand man for Valvano, who once said that “when Whit is on,” Wolfpack head coach Jim Valvano once said, “there’s nobody that I have more confidence in than him.”
After earning a B.S. inÂ business administration from NC State in 1984, Whittenburg became a graduate assistant under Valvano and a member of his inner circle.Â The two would talkÂ for hours at a time, he would later recall, with subjects ranging from basketball to matters outside the game.
Eventually, he’d be an assistant at George Mason, Long Beach State, and then back in Raleigh as a full-fledged assistant under Valvano until the end of the Valvano era in Raleigh.Â Later, Whittenburg went on as an assistant at West Virginia and Georgia Tech before taking on the head coaching duties at Wagner and Fordham.Â At Wagner, Whitt’s final team made the NCAA First Round, but at Fordham, he struggled, going a collective 69-112 with his best season being an 18-12 mark.
Now, he comes back to Raleigh to help Mark Gottfried as the “Senior Assistant to the Head Coach/Director of Player Development.” In that role, he will mentor Wolfpack players while assisting with player development.Â What Derek Whittenburg will bring is a tough mindset, a dedication to the effort needed to make one’s self into a champion and a never-say-die attitude that many say was missing from the Wolfpack last year.
Welcome home, Whitt.