Lorenzo Brown leaving NC State for the NBA; Gottfried 'committed' to Pack

jgiglio@newsobserver.comMarch 28, 2013 

Lorenzo Brown and Mark Gottfried sat together, shoulder to shoulder, one last time at N.C. State on Thursday.

The junior point guard and the coach are headed in different directions from here: Brown is going to the NBA and Gottfried is staying at N.C. State.

In the first move in what could potentially be a busy offseason for N.C. State, Brown announced his intention to enter the NBA draft after he led the ACC in assists.

"I just kind of figure it was my time to leave and step up to something new," Brown said.

While Brown and his family celebrated their decision, Gottfried confirmed his commitment to the Wolfpack.

The second-year coach’s name has been connected to the opening at UCLA, where he was an assistant for eight years. In a very 2013 move, Gottfried posted a comment about his job status on Twitter on Wednesday night.

"#WPN I am committed to being at @NCState for a long time. Still as dedicated to rebuilding the program as I was 2 yrs ago when I arrived," Gottfried wrote on his account.

Asked about the UCLA opening, Gottfried said: "I’m not going to talk about any other job other than the one I have, which is the one I love."

Asked what prompted the tweet, Gottfried said:

"There was a lot of discussion from others, not necessarily me," said Gottfried, who is 48-24 with two NCAA tournament appearances in two seasons at N.C. State. "I felt it was important to make that comment. I’m excited about being here and my full focus is on the work that we have to do, which I think is a lot right now."

The first task will be to determine who will be on the roster for Gottfried’s third season. Brown, a 6-5 point guard who is projected by DraftExpress.com to be a late first-round pick, will have to be replaced.

Junior forward C.J. Leslie, who has led the team in scoring the past two seasons, is expected to follow Brown into the NBA. Gottfried said Thursday there would be an update on Leslie’s future in the "next week or so."

"I want Calvin to visit with his family and then come to a conclusion that they think is right for them at this particular time," Gottfried said.

For Brown, the timing was right for a new challenge. He averaged 7.2 assists per game and was the first N.C. State player to lead the ACC in that category in 22 years. He also averaged 12.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 33 games. Brown’s best two games coincided with N.C. State’s two best wins: against Duke and North Carolina.

Brown had all 13 of N.C. State’s assists in an 84-76 home win over Duke on Jan. 12, which prompted Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to call him "magical" with the ball. Krzyzewski also said he was the best guard in transition in the country.

Brown was even better against UNC in a 91-83 home win on Jan. 26. He scored 20 points and finished with 11 assists to help the Wolfpack break a 13-game losing streak to the Tar Heels.

Gottfried said he talked to between 15 to 20 NBA teams about Brown’s draft stock and "most everybody is pretty confident that he could be a first-round draft pick," the coach said.

Brown’s college career was delayed by a year after an academic problem with the NCAA. He ended up coming to State in the same class with point guard Ryan Harrow and in former coach Sidney Lowe’s last season.

He played off the ball with Harrow on the point in 2010-11 but still led the team with 116 assists. When Gottfried was hired, Harrow transferred to Kentucky and Brown moved to the point.

He averaged 12.7 points and 6.3 assists as a sophomore and helped N.C. State reach the Sweet 16.

Brown did not consider the NBA after his sophomore season, he said because he had big goals for this season.

"I wanted to actually win a national title," Brown said. "I know we fell short of expectations this year and we didn’t do as well as we could."

Brown’s the first N.C. State underclassman to leave early for the draft since J.J. Hickson in 2008.

Freshman T.J. Warren is also considering jumping early to the draft. Warren’s dad said earlier this week his son hasn’t made a decision yet.

Gottfried said he has already talked with Warren and freshman guards Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis about their futures.

Purvis, who is close with Brown, was at Thursday’s press conference. Gottfried mentioned Lewis’ name when asked about the point guard situation next season.

Still, the roster could continue to evolve in the coming weeks.

"There will be daily conversations with our guys," Gottfried said. "It’s kind of what we do any way, we’re always talking to our players. We’ll have an open line of communication with all of them."

 

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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