Want proof that C.J. Leslie’s commitment is a huge deal to NC State and even to the entire ACC? Just notice how much the discussion of his decision continued today after the news broke late in the day Wednesday. Even with Tracy Smith’s decision to put his name into the draft (he’ll be back by the way), Leslie is the bigger news. With one visit to NC State’s campus Wednesday afternoon, Leslie made the Wolfpack relevant. Like nationally relevant.
I’ve read a lot about Leslie’s decision in the last 24 hours so I decided to try and synthesize some of that here for everyone to see. All of these are worth the read or watch.
This YouTube video is probably the one I’ve seen the most since the news broke yesterday.
For a minute there, Sidney Lowe’s job was hanging in the balance. NC State athletic director Lee Fowler was faced with an unfortunate decision. Folwer could either fire Sidney Lowe based on Lowe’s first four years, in which the Wolfpack experienced almost no success, or Fowler could keep Lowe around long enough for the coach to welcome his first impressive recruiting class and the sudden promise of immediate success.
In the end, hardly wavering, Fowler stuck with Lowe. It paid off.
Yesterday, Lowe got an all-important commitment from the second-best remaining unsigned recruit in the class of 2010, C.J. Leslie. Leslie is an uber-athletic 6-foot-9 power forward who plays “way above the rim,” according to his ESPNU and Scouts Inc. evaluation notes. The recruit is the No. 11-ranked player in the class of 2010; his recruiting decision had been narrowed to Kentucky, Connecticut and NC State. In the end, Leslie, who hails from Word of God Academy in Raleigh, N.C. (the same school as former Kentucky star John Wall), chose his home state Wolfpack and delivered a major boost to Lowe’s program in the process.
After months of watching and waiting and plenty of trash talk and rumors, State fans finally received a welcomed bit of news in the middle of Dead Week. Jon Ray, a sophomore in turfgrass science, was in class when his phone buzzed. “Pack is baaaacccckkk!” the text message read. “C.J. Leslie just committed.”
“It took about every ounce of self control I had not to jump up and start running around the room screaming,” Ray said. “I immediately tuned out the teacher and started texting everyone in my phone book about it.”
The news spread quickly around campus and students made plans to meet up and celebrate this weekend, once classes finished for the semester.
The bad news for Sidney Lowe, such as it is, is that he has no excuses if N.C. State does not make next season’s NCAA tournament. The good news is that with C.J. Leslie committing to play for him, he may not need any excuses.
If there’s an asterisk on Lowe’s four-year tenure without an NCAA appearance at N.C. State, it’s that he hasn’t had the right kind of talent – first, Herb Sendek recruits; then, underwhelming recruits of his own.
With the addition of Word of God forward Leslie on Wednesday to a recruiting class that already included guards Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown, the Wolfpack gets a first-class influx of talent on next year’s roster. And not just talent, but players recruited to play the kind of basketball Lowe wants to play.
Ordinarily when a player commits to a school and then later withdraws that commitment, he doesn’t wind up recommitting to the same school.
But C.J. Leslie’s recruiting saga has been anything but ordinary.
Leslie, a Class of 2010 power forward from Raleigh (N.C.) Word of God Academy, committed to N.C. State on Wednesday afternoon. His decision comes three years after he had originally committed to the Wolfpack, when he was a freshman at Holly Springs (N.C.) High. Two years later he rescinded that commitment and reopened his recruitment, attracting national interest in his services.