North Carolina State’s C.J. Leslie is joining colleague Lorenzo Brown by skipping his final season and entering the NBA draft.
Leslie met up with the media Monday to discuss his decision, and was joined by his mother, Lisa Leslie, and NCSU 2nd-year coach Mark Gottfried.
”It’s one of those things where you just know it’s just time, it’s time to move on,” Leslie recounted Monday in a press conference at the team’s practice facility. ”That’s what I feel just like in my heart. My family, they feel the same way I do. It was just one of those things where we felt like it was time to move on.”
The 6-foot-9 forward was the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year. He averaged a team-high 15 points to go with 7.4 rebounds while shooting almost 52 percent from the floor. He was a 3rd-team all-ACC pick by both the media and the coaches after ranking in the top 10 in the league in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage.
Leslie, who arrived under former coach Sidney Lowe, started 85 of his 99 career games and led the team in scoring as a sophomore too.
His call comes a few days after Brown, a point guard, announced his decision, though neither move was a surprise.
Leslie flirted with entering the draft last year after helping the North Carolina State make a surprise run to the NCAA round of 16 after missing the NCAAs for 5 straight seasons. This time, Wolfpack was the ACC favorite for the 1st time since the 1974-75 season and entered the year with a No. Six national ranking, but fell in the ACC tournament semifinals then lost to Temple in its NCAA tournament opener. Football betting lines
Coach Mark Gottfried asserted he believes there is a ‘’strong likelihood” that Leslie will be a 1st-round draft pick.
”I think he’s confident at the moment this is the best time for him personally and I think he’s going to do very well,” Gottfried related. ”I’m sad he’s leaving the program, but I’m excited. I think here’s where his heart is and I think he’s going to be very, very good.”
N.C. State will lose 4 starters from this year’s 24-win team, including seniors Richard Howell and Scott Wood. The Wolfpack should get rising sophomores T.J. Warren, Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis back, then add a 3-man recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-America point guard Anthony ”Cat” Barber.
The Wolfpack will also add LSU transfer Ralston Turner to the backcourt.
Leslie attended one NC State home game during his junior year at Raleigh Word of God and afterwards opened up his recruitment March 15, 2009. NC State coach Sidney Lowe took control of his recruitment, but his mother proved to be the Wolfpack’s best ally, with an assist to then Holy Rams coach Erasto Hatchett, who is the brother-in-law of then Wolfpack commit Ryan Harrow. The latter was in the news next weekend after transferring from Kentucky to Georgia State.