RALEIGH — Lorenzo Brown drove home to Georgia to have a wisdom tooth pulled three weeks ago. His mother nursed him back to strength after five drowsy days of pain.
Though it might have been tempting to remain at home, the sophomore guard returned to N.C. State's campus last week, revived and ready to prepare for the men's basketball season.
"Lot of working out," said Brown, who, along with guard Ryan Harrow and forward C.J. Leslie, arrived on campus last year as can't-miss freshmen expected to lead the Wolfpack into the future.
Harrow, who was the first of the freshman class to commit, has since transferred to Kentucky, leaving after Pack coach Sidney Lowe was replaced by Mark Gottfried.
State finished the season with a 15-16 overall record. The Pack finished 5-11 in the ACC for 10th place.
Brown, a 6-foot-5, 186-pound native of Roswell, Ga., decided to stay in the program and now must transition into the team's point guard and, possibly, its leader.
A nationally recruited guard out of Centennial High, Brown spent a season at Hargrave Military Academy to qualify for admission to State. He did not want to transfer and sit out again.
Plus, he said, Gottfried recruited him to Alabama while in high school, and he felt comfortable with him as a coach.
"My whole thing was sitting out another year," Brown said. "Even leaving N.C. State. I had a good time here last year. Even though we lost a lot of games, I thought we could be better than what we were."
And there was something else that kept him at State.
"Just trying to be loyal to my teammates," Brown said.
That decision came after a long talk with Harrow, who will sit out next season. "Whatever he wanted to do, I was going to support him," Brown said. "He really needed the year off to get healthy. Once he puts a lot of weight on, it's going to be trouble for people."
A new point
Many considered Harrow the team's future point guard after senior Javier Gonzalez graduated. Brown, who started 26 of 31 games as a freshman, must now take the reins at point guard, a position he is familiar with after playing it throughout his prep years. He also served as a backup point guard with the Pack.
"His main focus is getting others the ball," junior forward Scott Wood said. "That's what makes him so dangerous. He can score ... he looks to get other people going first, but if that's not available he can score."
Brown averaged 9.3 points, 3.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 turnovers in 28.8 minutes. He twice dished eight assists in a game, and in five games he handed out six assists.
Most comfortable driving to the basket, he said he's working this summer to become a better ball distributor and gain more court awareness.
"I'm a pass-first person," Brown said. "So if I can score, I can score, but if somebody's open that's [the option]."
Known in high school as a prolific scorer, Brown said he wasn't happy with his offense last season. He said his reduced output may have come from staying away from the gym.
This summer, you can find him most nights taking shots in the team's practice facility.
When teammates gather, he's studying their strokes, looking for tips to become a better shooter. He admires Wood's shot, even nicknaming himself "Lorenzo Wood" when he's knocking them down.
With the departure of Tracy Smith and Gonzalez, the Pack will look for leadership. Brown said he's eager to play the role, particularly as a point guard.
"I like having control of the game," he said. "I like to talk to my teammates. I think my team likes to hear what I have to say. I'm not going to be too over aggressive."
Showing up to the gym in July serves as one form of leadership. On this day, Brown was meeting his teammates for a shootaround.
"Everyone who is here, their head's on straight," he said. "Last year around this time, nobody was in the gym. It was kind of disturbing to see that you have a free gym, 24-hour access, anytime you want, and nobody was in there. This time, everyone is in here."
Count Brown as a believer in the program's ability to rebound.
"He wants to get the program to where it was in the '80s," Wood said. "He looks at it as a challenge, and no matter the obstacle, he thinks he can come out on top."
So far, with the season months away, Brown likes what he sees.
"This year, a lot has changed," he said. "Coach Gottfried has changed a lot of people's mind-state. Just like that. Just staying on us. He's always coming to check on us. ... That makes us feel like we're wanted. Like they need us. That plays a big part in what's going on."
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