Challenges face NC State basketball team after departures

jgiglio@newsobserver.comApril 18, 2013 

— N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried wasn’t quite sure which word to use to describe the current state of transition for the basketball program.

The Wolfpack, which closed the books on the 2012-13 basketball season on Thursday night at the team’s annual banquet, will have to replace five of its top six scorers from a 24-11, NCAA tournament team.

“Whether it’s rebuilding, reloading, restarting, we’re going to have a pretty big challenge,” Gottfried said Thursday. “We’re going to have a lot of new faces. I don’t know that there’s a lot of teams in the country that will have lost as much as we lost.”

The Wolfpack will have to replace two seniors Scott Wood and Richard Howell, who were named co-MVPs of the season at Thursday’s banquet, and a pair of juniors, Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie, who opted to jump early to the NBA.

Also, guard Rodney Purvis decided to transfer after his freshman season.

Gottfried will have forward T.J. Warren, the leading returning scorer, who will be a sophomore and point guard Tyler Lewis said he was “most likely” coming back.

Warren, who has a good on-court chemistry with Lewis, was happy to hear about Lewis’ return.

“He’s a great player,” Warren said. “I can’t wait to get out there with him.”

Lewis, who averaged 3.5 points and 1.4 assists in a limited role as a freshman, did talk at length about his role next season and the potential of the team to handle all of the personnel changes.

In the two ACC starts Brown missed with an ankle injury , Lewis averaged 14.5 points and 5.5 assists in 37.5 minutes. Lewis said he has already noticed a difference in the workouts the team has had.

“I feel like we’re more disciplined and I feel like everyone is working harder than we did last season,” Lewis said. “I feel like last season, we relied on our talent too much, instead of going out and practicing hard every day and getting the job done that way.”

In addition to Warren and Lewis, Ralston Turner, a wing from Louisiana State, will be eligible after sitting out last season and guard Desmond Lee made his commitment official on Thursday.

Lee, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall and 194 pounds, averaged 20.3 points and 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game last season at New Mexico Junior College. Lee is originally from Norfolk, Va. and was once a high school teammate of former Wolfpack forward DeShawn Painter.

“The first thing with Desmond is he’s a little bit older, which is good for our team because we’re going to be awfully young and inexperienced,” Gottfried said.

“He’s a guy that we feel can really shoot the ball well from the perimeter. He’s a good guard and I think that’s what our team needed.”

Lee joins a trio of freshman – guard Anthony Barber, forward BeeJay Anya and forward Kyle Washington – as the team’s newcomers.

There will be a lot of changes, Gottfried understands that, not just on the roster, but also of how the team is perceived.

Last season, it was picked to win the league. Next season, the outside expectations will be low.

“We’re going to have a lot of questions, we know it,” Gottfried said.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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