NC State loses Leslie, Purvis to early departures

jgiglio@newsobserver.comApril 1, 2013 

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    Rodney Purvis is the ninth N.C. State player to transfer in the past four years, the sixth since Mark Gottfried replaced Sidney Lowe:

    2011: Ryan Harrow (Kentucky, Georgia State)

    2012: Tyler Harris (Providence), Jaqawn Raymond (Middle Tennessee), DeShawn Painter (Old Dominion)

    2013: Thomas de Thaey, Rodney Purvis

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    Wholesale changes?

    N.C. State’s starting lineup will look vastly different next season, even more so if freshman T.J. Warren jumps to the NBA:

    Guard Anthony Barber, 6-2, fr. (Rated No. 23 in the ESPN top 100)

    Guard Ralston Turner, 6-6, jr. (12.3 ppg at LSU in 2010-11)

    Forward T.J. Warren, 6-8, soph. (12.1 ppg)

    Forward Kyle Washington, 6-9, fr. (Rated No. 83 in the ESPN top 100)

    Forward BeeJay Anya, 6-9, fr. (Rated No. 69 in the ESPN top 100)

— And then there were four.

That’s how many returning scholarship players are on N.C. State’s basketball roster after two more key players exited the program Monday.

Junior forward C.J. Leslie’s departure for the NBA, celebrated at a news conference at the practice facility in the morning, was expected.

Freshman guard Rodney Purvis’ decision to transfer, which was confirmed six hours later via email, was not.

Of the seven Wolfpack players who saw the floor in the season-ending loss to Temple in the NCAA tournament, five are gone. Purvis became the sixth player to leave the program since coach Mark Gottfried was hired in April 2011; nine have left early since the end of the 2009-10 season.

Of the four scholarship players who remain from the 2012-13 roster, only three were eligible last season and only one averaged more than 15 minutes per game.

“We’ve got to move on,” Gottfried said when asked specifically about Leslie’s departure but before Purvis’ decision became public.

Purvis, who attended Leslie’s news conference, met with Gottfried and told the coach about his decision to transfer after his freshman season.

A McDonald’s All-American from Raleigh, Purvis averaged 8.3 points and 2.4 rebounds and started 23 games this season. He did not talk with the media but did confirm the decision on Twitter.

“Tears won’t stop falling,” Purvis wrote. “I enjoyed every moment here. I still love you guys, no matter how you may feel towards me. Thank y’all!”

Gottfried had planned on losing Leslie, who led the team in scoring (15.1 points per game), since the end of the 2011-12 season.

After a breakout sophomore season when he led the Wolfpack to the Sweet 16, Leslie returned to N.C. State instead of going pro.

Leslie, an athletic 6-foot-9 forward, was the preseason ACC Player of the Year and the Wolfpack was the preseason pick to win the league. He had an uneven junior season, ended up as a third-team All-ACC selection and the Wolfpack finished fifth in the ACC.

A 24-win season, which included home victories against Duke and North Carolina, ended in disappointment with a round of 64 loss to Temple in the NCAA tournament.

Leslie, who was a McDonald’s All-American at Raleigh’s Word of God and former teammate to NBA star John Wall, said he doesn’t have any regrets.

“I’m not really a regretful-type dude,” Leslie said. “That’s not who I am, I just keep it moving.

“I try not look back and think about shoulda, coulda. You have to learn to take what you did and live with it and move on.”

N.C. State will have to move on with new players for Gottfried’s third season. The entire starting lineup from the season opener, and 22 other games, will have to be replaced.

Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Purvis and seniors Scott Wood and Richard Howell accounted for 78.9 percent of the Wolfpack’s offense this season and 90.2 percent of the games started. Brown, a junior, announced his decision to leave for the NBA last week.

Freshman forward T.J. Warren averaged 12.1 points and started the final 10 games of the season. He would be the leading returning scorer but he is also considering a jump to the NBA.

Guard Tyler Lewis started two games and forward Jordan Vandenberg, who averaged less than six minutes per game, also started one game. Neither Warren nor Lewis has made a decision about his future with the program.

Guard Ralston Turner, a transfer from Louisiana State, is the fourth returning player on scholarship. Turner averaged 10.5 points in two seasons in the SEC but had to sit out this season under NCAA transfer rules.

After Monday’s exits, Gottfried has six available scholarships for next season. He has already signed three freshmen – guard Anthony Barber, forward Kyle Washington and forward BeeJay Anya – and the Wolfpack is still in pursuit of junior college guard Desmond Lee and Oak Hill forward Lennard Freeman.

No matter what the final roster looks like, N.C. State will be different without Purvis, who cited the need for a fresh start in a statement released by the school.

Purvis, a 6-3 guard, provided scoring in transition and energy with his crowd-pleasing dunks. He started 23 of the first 25 games and then his role changed in mid-February. Warren took Purvis’ spot in the starting lineup before an 84-66 home win against Florida State on Feb. 19.

Purvis came off the bench for the last 10 games of the season, and scored a season-best 21 points in a home win against Boston College during that span.

His minutes were also reduced as a reserve. He averaged 17.9 minutes in the final 10 games of the season, compared to 28.6 over the first 25 games. He played a season-low nine minutes in the ACC tournament win against Virginia.

Minutes would not be a problem for Purvis next season but his fit into Gottfried’s system has been an issue. Purvis, who is better with the help of a ball screen and attacking the basket, was caught between roles in Gottfried’s high-post offense, which is contingent on cuts and reactions.

Purvis almost missed his freshman season at N.C. State after he was initially ruled ineligible by the NCAA in August for academic issues connected to his former high school.

He missed the team’s trip to Spain in August but won his appeal with the NCAA in September.

Purvis originally committed to Louisville. With Louisville set to join the ACC in 2015, he will not be allowed to transferred there, or any other current or future ACC school. Missouri and Cincinnati, who are future nonconference opponents, were also on the list of schools N.C. State would not release Purvis to.

Gottfried, who declined to be interviewed about Purvis, thanked him in a statement released by the team and wished him well.

Purvis said he enjoyed “every moment” at N.C. State and said all the people have been great.

“However, I feel like it’s time for me to make a fresh start, step outside of my comfort zone and continue my career in a new environment,” he said in a statement released by the school.

R. Cory Smith contributed to this report. Giglio: 919-829-8938

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