NC State's Rodney Purvis to transfer to UConn

jgiglio@newsobserver.comApril 5, 2013 

— Rodney Purvis can rattle off the names of the NBA guards produced by Connecticut.

The former N.C. State guard hopes to add his name to that list. Purvis, a McDonald's All-American from Raleigh, has decided to transfer to UConn after one season with the Wolfpack, he said Friday.

Under NCAA rules, Purvis, who averaged 8.3 points and started 23 games as a freshman, will have to sit out next season. It's a small trade he's willing to make to find the right program to fit his skill set.

"They have a great tradition of producing NBA guards and that's where I want to be someday," Purvis said Friday in an interview in Raleigh.

Purvis said coach Kevin Ollie's own NBA experience, 13 seasons in the league, and the tradition of UConn guards — from Ray Allen to Kemba Walker — ultimately led him to the Huskies.

"I really trust coach Ollie," Purvis said. "He's a player's coach. He's the type of guy whose office is always open and you can talk to him."

UConn is coming off of a 20-10 season, Ollie's first. The Huskies were banned from postseason play by the NCAA for previous academic issues under former coach Jim Calhoun, who won three national titles and built the program into a Big East power. The Huskies are moving to the newly minted American Athletic Conference next season, which will include East Carolina by the time Purvis is eligible.

Purvis, who started 23 of the first 25 games for N.C. State, saw his role change at the end of his freshman season. His minutes were reduced after he was replaced in the starting lineup by fellow freshman T.J. Warren for the final 10 games of the season.

Purvis, a 6-3 guard, said playing time was not a factor in his decision to leave N.C. State, which he announced on Monday. He also dispelled the notion that there was any rift between him and Warren or any of his teammates.

"I love every single one of those guys on the team," Purvis said. "I have no problem with anybody."

Purvis said he never fit in coach Mark Gottfried's offense. Purvis also said his relationship with Gottfried, which he characterized as "not the best," contributed to his decision to leave.

"Honestly, I don't think the question was 'How do I fit in?'" Purvis said. "It was obvious to me after a few practices and games that I didn't."

Purvis was often able to find points in transition but he sometimes struggled in State's halfcourt sets. He's not a spot-up shooter and he wasn't used as a primary ballhandler. Gottfried's offense also doesn't include a lot of ballscreens for the guards.

"I want to be able to create and have some freedom," Purvis said.

Purvis, who led the team in scoring in five games and had a season-best 21 against Boston College on Feb. 27, said he was frustrated by his own performance and inconsistencies.

"I didn't see myself playing up to the level that I know I was capable of," Purvis said. "People could see that, it's not like it was hidden."

The tension between Purvis and Gottfried was also apparent as the season progressed. Purvis said he got to a point "where I didn't really want to talk to him."

Gottfried, who's in Atlanta for the Final Four, said Friday he has an open-door policy with all of his players.

"It's unfortunate that he would feel that way," Gottfried said. "You know, I don't have any hard feelings towards Rodney. I hope for the best for him and I say that sincerely."

Purvis plans on finishing the spring semester at N.C. State and taking summer school classes in Storrs, Conn.

Purvis, who relies on his emotions to fuel his game, was upbeat Friday when talked about the opportunity to move on and start over at UConn. He has taken some vile hits on his Twitter timeline since making the decision to leave N.C. State but he understands it's just frustration by the fans.

Leaving Raleigh wasn't a decision he could have made a year ago coming out of high school, he said. He has a close relationship with his mother, Shanda McNair, whose name is tattooed on his left wrist.

After a disappointing season at N.C. State, he said he's ready to move away and make his mark away from home.

"It's a part of growing up," Purvis said. "I've been home too long. This will give me a chance to learn more about myself as a person."

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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