For the next five days, Beyond the Arc will detail what some teams need. Hey, we’re in a giving mood.
Under first-year head coach Mark Gottfried, the Wolfpack are surprising some people, out of the gate. What does North Carolina’s “third team” have to do to get back to national prominence?
Maybe a Christmas-time boost would help. Let’s take a look at the list.
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Must Have: A view of the future
NC State is in a good spot right now. Picked to finish 8th in the ACC, they may have four losses, but those defeats have come at the hands of quality opponents: Indiana, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, and Stanford.
CJ Leslie is continuing to emerge as the team’s leading scorer, showing how his athleticism can impact the game at both ends of the floor. If he sticks around and doesn’t enter the NBA Draft, he would be the anchor to the star-studded recruiting class Gottfried is bringing in 2012.
Speaking of that recruiting class, it is one of the best in the country, featuring elite passer Tyler Lewis, high-level swingman TJ Warren, and blue-chipper Rodney Purvis.
Gottfried is building his team on athleticism, and Lewis is a great choice to lead the attack. Working in combination with athletes like Purvis, Warren, and Leslie, if he stays, the Wolfpack are building a solid foundation for a run in the ACC.
Stocking Stuffer: A commitment from Amile Jefferson
Just as Kentucky wants to score a late commitment from Shabazz Muhammad, NC State would love the same from the Philadelphia-born forward, Jefferson.
Jefferson is a crafty, intelligent, lanky forward from Friend’s Central (Pa.) who has the Wolfpack in his final list, along with Villanova, Ohio State, Stanford, Temple, Kentucky, and Connecticut.
He would fit well into the up-and-down, fastbreak style the Gottfried favors and is one of the smartest ballplayers in his class, when it comes to operating in the half court. He may not be a freak athlete, but his basketball IQ makes him a top 30 prospect.
Planning to re-gift: The success of in-state rivals
NC State has been the third wheel in the state of North Carolina for a long time. With the Tar Heels and the Dukies in the same market, that can happen.
With both teams in the top 10 this year, Gottfried & Co. will have to weather the storm and continue to build, before they make their breakthrough.
Purvis, Warren, and Lewis were all huge pick-ups, with all three being from the Tar Heel State. Building a foundation like that so quickly will bend the success curve favorably for the Wolfpack.