Any reference to the North Carolina contingent at the McDonalds All-American Game in Chicago tonight means N.C. State recruits, not future University of North Carolina players.
The Wolfpack has three Tar Heels in the game, but the designation applies not to their college decision, but to their residence.
T. J. Warren, who grew up in Durham, and Tyler Lewis, from Lewisville, played their senior seasons at out-of-state high schools, but they join Raleighs Rodney Purvis in giving the state, and State, three players in the game. It is a record for the state and for the university.
Lewis played at Forsyth Country Day, but transferred to Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy and helped coach Steve Smiths Warriors to a 44-0 national championship season. Lewis was named the Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year.
Purvis picked up the N.C. Gatorade award for while playing at Raleighs Upper Room Christian Academy.
Warrens father Tony was one of the best basketball players ever at Raleigh Enloe High and later played at N.C. State. T.J. played at Durham Riverside as a sophomore, at Raleigh Word of God as a junior and last year at Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy.
Aiming for N.C. State
Lewis said the players had often talked about going to N.C. State.
Coach (Mark) Gottfriend has turned the program around. We know were going to have a lot of pressure on us. Thats even more exciting, he said. Purvis said N.C. State was a great fit for him.
It was probably one of the best decisions that Ive made in a long time, he said. Just being able to play with guys that I grew up with, Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren. N.C. State made a great run in the tournament. Im really happy with my decision.
Gottfried has impressed the recruits. Purvis was considering schools such as Memphis, Connecticut and Ohio State before the coach sold him on the Wolfpack.
Warren said the three players know there is a lot of work ahead of them.
We just want to get there and work hard and try to be one of the top teams in the country next year, he said. We just want to bring NC State back to where it needs to be.
We know what we have to do and were going to do it. Were going to come in and work hard. Were going to take it as far as we can.
There also is a chance that N.C. State eventually may be able to claim four 2012 McDonalds All-Americans because uncommitted Amile Jefferson, a 6-foot-8 forward from Philadelphia, has the Wolfpack among his finalists.
Hopefully, we can have some more McDonalds All-Americans. Were definitely putting the full-court pressure on him. We really want him there, Lewis said Tuesday.
Shabazz Muhammad, the nations top-ranked player, also is not committed.
North Carolina, the school, is represented by Marcus Paige of Marion, Iowa, the top-ranked point guard recruit in the country, and Duke has shooting guard Rasheed Sulaimon of Houston in the game.
Correspondent Bob Naran contributed to this story.