Midtown: Sports

N.C. State recruits ready for McDonald’s Game

N.C. State fans got a glimpse at the future last Wednesday night at the United Center.

If the McDonald’s All-American game is any indication, the Wolfpack are in store for a few more extended runs in the NCAA tournament.

Three N.C. State recruits – Tyler Lewis, T.J. Warren and Rodney Purvis – played for the East team in the 2012 McDonald’s game. The trio comprised the most McDonald’s signees from the same class in the history of N.C. State basketball.

Purvis led all area recruits with 15 points on 7-for-15 shooting for the East team. Warren finished with 10 points and four rebounds and Lewis added two points and three assists. Purvis admitted the first time playing together with his future teammates led for several thoughts of the future.

“It’s very exciting for the future of N.C. State,” Purvis said. “I’m going to keep working on my game. Me, Tyler and T.J. are going to continue to work hard and be ready when the fall begins. I just tried to play hard and motivate my team because players look up to guards. It was great tonight to play together (with my future teammates).”

Shabazz Muhammad electrified the crowd with an array of dunks to lead all scorers with 21 points to spark the West to a 106-102 victory over the East. Muhammad was named the MVP for the McDonald’s game.

Purvis, a 6-foot-3 combo guard out of Upper Room Christian High School in Raleigh, was matched up against Duke recruit Rasheed Sulaimon for several possessions. Purvis made a quick statement with a two-handed jam after entering the game. Purvis added another basket to shoot 2-for-5 for four points in the opening 20 minutes. Purvis displayed his slashing ability throughout the game, driving to the basket for layups and dunks.

Purvis picked up the N.C. Gatorade award for North Carolina while playing at Raleigh’s Upper Room Christian Academy.

He was also named the Associated Press players of the year for the state. Purvis earned 17 of a possible 22 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Saturday. New Hanover County’s Kadeem Allen had the other votes after leading his team to a state championship.

Aiming for N.C. State

Lewis said the players had talked often about going to N.C. State.

“Coach (Mark) Gottfried has turned the program around. We know we’re going to have a lot of pressure on us. That’s even more exciting,” he said. “We got to go in there right way; we’re McDonald’s All-Americans, we have to set the stage.”

Purvis said N.C. State was a great fit for him.

“It was probably one of the best decisions that I’ve made in a long time,” he said. “Just being able to play with guys that I grew up with, Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren. N.C. State made a great run in the tournament. I’m really happy with my decision.”

Gottfried has impressed the recruits. Purvis was considering schools such as Memphis, Connecticut and Ohio State before the coach sold him on the Wolfpack.

“Coach called me and said if C.J. happened to come back that we would definitely be Top 5, Top 10 in the country,” Purvis said. “That would be a great honor. With all that comes responsibility. We have to live up to the hype.”

There is a chance N.C. State eventually might be able to claim four 2012 McDonald’s All-Americans because uncommitted Amile Jefferson, a 6-foot-8 forward from Philadelphia, has the Wolfpack among his finalists.

Tim Stevens contributed.