C.J. Leslie, Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown teamed up with CJ Williams in the N.C. ProAm last night in Durham and gave the Wolfpack fans in attendance a bit of a preview of what to expect in the coming season. While it might be a pick up game preview, it still counts for something. We put up some video earlier shot by packfanatic17. If you haven’t seen that yet, go here.
I got a chance to go over and watch last night and the main reason I chose to do so was to see these three guys play together. Seeing Leslie, Harrow and Brown play individually is all well and good, but seeing them play together was something I wanted to do. I despise the type of basketball I got to see, but it’s still a good way to see what each player will bring to the table for the Wolfpack.
That being said, Wolfpack fans have reason to be excited. I’ll still stand by my restrain your expectations approach, but these three players are going to dramatically improve NC State’s roster (duh) and will all make significant contributions the instant basketball practice begins.
When it comes to the game, the NC State led Team McGladrey beat Lucky Seven in the last minute after an absurd follow dunk from Mr. Leslie. Lucky Seven, coached by Jeremy Hyatt and featuring former NC State guard Courtney Fells, was ahead for much of the game but Team McGladrey was clearly the more talented team.
I won’t talk anymore about the game, but here’s some thoughts about what Leslie, Harrow and Brown will bring to the Wolfpack.
C.J. is on a different level athletically than any NC State player I can remember recently. He may be a 6’8″ wing/forward who will play mostly three at the college level, but he’s got the athletic ability of a two guard. He has great body control and is a much better dribbler than you might think. In last night’s game he tried to stretch his mid-range game out beyond the three point line without much success. He has a good shot it just doesn’t seem like he has developed a true outside game that he will need to have as a wing player. If he can begin to knock down some long two-point shots and even three-pointers and stretch defenses, he will find those lanes to the basket (which he loves to take advantage of) a lot more open. When Leslie wants to take over a game he can. And that may be the key with Leslie. Does he want to do it? The only concern fans should have with Leslie is whether or not his effort will always be at the highest level. If it is, watch out. If not, or if Leslie gets frustrated early on in the season, this year could be a bit bumpy. Of the three incoming freshmen Leslie is probably the most ready to contribute from day one, but his game can get a lot better and when it does, the ACC needs to watch out.
Ryan’s court vision and ball handling ability are already better than anybody on NC State’s roster and that will be evident early on in the season. His size and strength will be a liability once ACC play begins, but he still finds way to finish around the rim. I think the major difference in the season and in conference play will be his ability to get into the lane in the first place. He’s going to get knocked around on his way in there and it will be interesting to see how his body handles it. He showed off his outside shot last night, knocking down four or five threes from a set shot. That part of his game seems to be coming along, but I’ve seen him play several times and it appears to be inconsistent at best, for now. I don’t see Harrow starting to begin the season but depending on how things go with Javi Gonzalez early on, Harrow could very easily make it into the starting five. He will, without a doubt, log major minutes regardless of how well Gonzalez plays. He’s a game changer for sure and always looks to make the people around him better, which is something NC State is in dire need of.
Lorenzo was the player I was most excited to see last night and he did not disappoint. There is no other way to describe Brown than smooth. Everything he does, whether it’s going to the rim, shooting a three or blocking shots, looks way too easy. He guarded Courtney Fells for much of the night last night and more than held his own on an athletic level. Brown may be the freshmen that NC State relies the most on next year from a scoring standpoint. He can most certainly do that, but I hope the pressure doesn’t get to him, much like it did to Scott Wood last season. If he is allowed to progress slowly and grow his offensive game throughout the season he’ll be fine.
While it is tough to tell much from watching what amounts to a pick up game, it is clear that these three players are all on a different level than what NC State has brought in since Sidney Lowe has been in Raleigh. That, at the very least, is worth being excited about. If they can be allowed to progress slowly through the non-conference schedule and can stay healthy, these three could help NC State become a contender in the top half of the ACC.
In other N.C. ProAm news, Harrison Barnes went off last night for Team Stackhouse. Apparently his 31 came from all over the court too. Check out some video of that here. Also, go ahead and clear your schedules for July 13. Team McGladrey takes on Team Stackhouse, led by Barnes, Reggie Bullock and John Henson, at 6 p.m. Admission is free and all the games are at the McLendon-McDougald Gymnasium on North Carolina Central’s Campus.