N.C. State Basketball

Young Wolfpack basketball team will count on Lee, Turner

jgiglio@newsobserver.comOctober 1, 2013 

There are so many new parts to N.C. State’s basketball lineup, coach Mark Gottfried expects there to be a healthy learning curve for his third team.

The two words Gottfried used most on Monday at the team’s media day were “young” and “inexperienced.”

The Wolfpack has to replace five of the seven regulars from last year’s lineup, or 78.9 percent of its scoring from a team that won 24 games and made the NCAA tournament.

“This group is going to have some unique challenges because of how young and inexperienced we are,” said Gottfried, who has a 48-24 record at N.C. State.

The description “young” definitely applies to freshman forward Lennard Freeman, who’s only 17, and also the trio of newcomers Cat Barber, Kyle Washington and BeeJay Anya, who are all expected to be major contributors as freshmen.

But the Wolfpack does have a pair of older players in junior guards Des Lee and Ralston Turner, who Gottfried will count on for some leadership, despite the fact that neither has played a minute in the ACC.

Sophomores Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren are the only major contributors back from last year’s team. Warren, who averaged 12.1 points as a freshman, is the only returning player who averaged more than 15 minutes a game last season.

That’s where the maturity of Lee, a 6-foot-4, 194 pound junior college transfer, and Turner, a 6-6, 209 pound transfer from Louisiana State, will factor into the leadership equation.

“We’ll be able to help,” Turner said. “And with Tyler and T.J. coming back, collectively, we’ll be alright.”

Both Turner and Lee also add some versatility to the lineup. Most of the roles on last year’s team were compartmentalized, this season’s lineup will be more fluid, especially with Lee and Turner on the floor at the same time.

Gottfried said he’s more sure of what he’ll get from Turner because he has already played two seasons of major college basketball. Turner started 57 games in two seasons for LSU and averaged 10.5 points for his career.

With junior college transfers like Lee, Gottfried said, there can be an adjustment period.

“He may go through that,” Gottfried said. “We’ll see, I’m not sure just yet but he has a chance to be really good.”

Gottfried did praise the versatility of Lee, who averaged 20.3 points and 5.1 rebounds last season at New Mexico Junior College.

“He’s kind of good at everything,” Gottfried said. “He’s a good defender, good passer, pretty good shooter, good ballhandler, makes good decision, rebounds good for a guard.”

Lee described himself as a combo guard. He will play off the ball, with Lewis and Barber handling the point-guard duties, but he said he’s comfortable with running the offense, if necessary.

Lee, who’s originally from Norfolk, Va., said he’s ready to contribute in whatever way Gottfried wants him to. He said he came off the bench in his first season at junior college and that wouldn’t be a problem this season.

“I’m all about just trying to help the team win,” Lee said.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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