Purvis will play at the point for NC State

csmith@newsobserver.comFebruary 1, 2013 

— The last time N.C. State had to make a change at the point guard position, a young, inexperienced freshman named Lorenzo Brown was thrust into the role after Ryan Harrow was scratched because of illness.

Two years later, Brown, now one of the best point guards in the ACC, might be sitting on the sidelines watching another combo guard try to fill the void.

But for Rodney Purvis, the dramatic shift from shooting guard to the point against Miami on Saturday at PNC Arena doesn’t have him worried.

“Point guard is something I played in high school and AAU,” Purvis said. “So playing the point guard or playing the two guard is basically the same thing for me.”

In fact, running the point was what attracted teams like Kentucky and Louisville to Purvis during his recruitment. Before committing to N.C. State, the freshman was courted by Kentucky coach John Calipari. But after Calipari decided to sign Harrow as a transfer, Purvis decided to go in a different direction.

Purvis was at one point rated the top point guard in the 2012 class, but his prolific shooting and scoring ability changed the minds of recruiters and coaches.

Purvis has played mostly shooting guard for thus far, and said his scoring mentality won’t change against Miami.

“I’m going to attack regardless,” Purvis said. “No matter what position I’m put in, I’m going to attack and either create for myself or my teammates. I’m just trying to do whatever I need to do for the team to win.”

On the other end of the spectrum stands fellow freshman Tyler Lewis, a 5-foot-10 guard who is a natural pass-first point guard. He was touted as a recruit more for his court vision than his shooting ability.

He had not played more than six minutes in a conference game until Brown went down against Virginia, which led to 15 minutes off the bench for Lewis.

“It’s going to be different because I haven’t played as many minutes as Zo,” Lewis said. “But not a lot of freshman are in this situation right now, so I have to take advantage of it.”

Lewis said this might give him the opportunity to play the role he is comfortable with – controlling the court.

“I definitely feel like this is my opportunity,” he said. “It’s not my game coming in for two minutes at a time. I’m the type of player that likes to control the pace and you can’t get into the flow of the game when you are playing that many minutes."

Purvis echoed Lewis’ sentiment.

“This is an opportunity for us to step up while our junior guard is sidelined,” Purvis said. “We’ll see how much heart we’ve got. This is the type of game that we need at this point in the season.”

While it is still unclear whether Brown will play any minutes at all against Miami, who still stands as the only undefeated team in conference play, both Purvis and Lewis have been splitting time in practice – something Wolfpack forward C.J. Leslie said he is comfortable with.

“I have trust in both of our guys,” Leslie said. “They both have two completely different styles, but they are both able to get the job done. We’re going to rely heavily on them playing well.”

Smith: 919-829-4841; Twitter: @RCorySmith

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