N.C. State decided enough was enough.
With several players hobbled with injuries, the Wolfpack officially closed the books on the 2015-16 season on Monday.
Instead of trying to extend the season in a third tier postseason tournament, the school made the decision not put its name in consideration for the new “Vegas 16” tournament in Las Vegas.
Both junior forward Lennard Freeman and freshman guard Maverick Rowan have been hobbled by injuries over the past few weeks of the season, which concluded with a 92-89 loss to Duke last Wednesday in the ACC tournament. The Wolfpack was also missing junior guard Terry Henderson for all but seven minutes of the season.
At 16-17, N.C. State finished with a losing record for the first time under fifth-year coach Mark Gottfried. It was only the second time in 19 seasons as a head coach at Alabama, Murray State and N.C. State that Gottfried had a losing season (13-16 at Alabama in 1999-2000).
N.C. State, which never really recovered from Trevor Lacey’s early departure for a pro career last April, now must play the waiting game with All-ACC guard Cat Barber.
Barber, who led the ACC in scoring as a junior, said before the ACC tournament he would go through the NBA draft evaluation process and then make a decision of whether to return for his senior season.
Barber is projected by most draft sites to be a second-round pick. The NBA draft combine is May 11 to 15 in Chicago. Under the new NCAA rules adopted this year, Barber has until May 25 to make a final decision.
The Wolfpack has an influx of perimeter talent to either complement Barber next season or take his place. Freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. enrolled in January to help rehabilitate from a knee injury which cost him his senior season at Fayetteville’s Trinity Christian.
Sophomore guard Torin Dorn will be eligible after sitting out the season after transferring from UNC Charlotte. Henderson, who suffered ligament damage to his right ankle, is expected to make a complete recovery by the start of his senior season.
Gottfried will have to hire a new assistant coach. Rob Moxley was moved to a new position as director of player personnel before the ACC tournament.
Moxley has been one of the ACC’s top recruiters in his first five years with Gottfried. With recruiting evaluation period heating back up in April, Gottfried will have to fill that position sooner rather than later.
Also on Monday, Tulane made the dismissal of coach Ed Conroy official. There might be interest from the Green Wave, who finished last in the American Athletic Conference, in Wolfpack associate head coach Bobby Lutz. Lutz won a school-record 218 games at Charlotte in 12 seasons and led the 49ers to five NCAA tournament appearances before going to Iowa State as an assistant for one year and spending the past five on Gottfried’s staff.
Lutz was in the running for the College of Charleston job last year and has expressed an interest in becoming a head coach again.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio