Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com is reporting that CJ Leslie will return to NC State for his junior season.
Leslie averaged 14.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in 2011-12, helping to lead the Wolfpack to an unlikely run to the Sweet 16, where they fell to national championship participant Kansas.
Leslie scored in double figures for each of the last 16 games of the season, including 22 points in a narrow loss to North Carolina in the ACC tournament and another 18 in that NCAA tournament loss to Kansas.
He was a Top 15 prospect out of high school from the Class of 2010, out of Word of God Academy (N.C.).
He was projected to be selected in the late first round of the 2012 NBA draft.
His return to NC State should make the Wolfpack a preseason favorite in the ACC, with three McDonald’s All-Americans joining the roster from the Class of 2012, with Leslie returning, along with guard Lorenzo Brown.
Tyler Lewis of Oak Hill (Va.), a talented passer, together with offensive threat Rodney Purvis will make for a strong backcourt. TJ Warren is a threat at the small forward position.
Gottfried, whose hiring was criticized at the time, has shown the ability to recruit and win in his one season in Raleigh, but will now have to do it in a different position: as the favorite, not the underdog.