NC State

NC State’s Abu considers leaving Pack

Abdul-Malik Abu's monster dunks in NC State's win over Pitt

Watch three of NC State forward Abdul-Malik Abu's monster dunks in the Wolfpack's win over Pitt in ACC action.
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Watch three of NC State forward Abdul-Malik Abu's monster dunks in the Wolfpack's win over Pitt in ACC action.

N.C. State’s chaotic offseason for the basketball team took another turn Monday and could possibly mean the exit of the one player the Wolfpack cannot afford to lose.

Forward Abdul-Malik Abu told ESPN that he is “seriously considering transferring or hiring an agent.”

Abu, who led the team in rebounding as a sophomore and was second in scoring last season, had previously declared for the NBA draft on March 24.

Coach Mark Gottfried called sophomore big man Abdul-Malik Abu a ‘sweetheart’ after the Wolfpack's win over South Alabama. Abu, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds after missing most of the first half with foul trouble, pointed out there’s

Coach Mark Gottfried said then that he expected Abu to come back to N.C. State for his junior season if Abu was not projected to be a first-round pick.

Abu’s comments to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, who posted them on Twitter on Monday, suggest that returning to N.C. State is not an option.

Abu could not be reached for further comment Monday. Ty Boswell, Abu’s AAU coach, declined to comment. Gottfried also declined to comment.

Several changes have occurred since the Wolfpack closed out a 16-17 season on March 9. Since then, N.C. State has seen:

▪ Star guard Cat Barber leave for the NBA draft and sign with an agent.

▪ Twins Caleb and Cody Martin transfer after their sophomore seasons.

▪ Abu and junior forward BeeJay Anya declare for the draft without signing with an agent.

▪ The replacement of a pair of assistants who had helped Gottfried reach the NCAA tournament for four straight seasons.

Gottfried was prepared for Barber’s exit. He signed freshman guard Dennis Smith, a top-rated recruit from Fayetteville, to play point guard in 2016-17.

A healthy Terry Henderson – who missed all but 7 minutes of the 2015-16 season with an ankle injury – and the addition of Charlotte transfer Torin Dorn are expected to offset the loss of the Martin twins.

But the Wolfpack was already thin at forward with Abu and will be impossibly thin without him.

Gottfried used only three scholarship players in the post this past season: Abu, Anya and Lennard Freeman.

Abu, who averaged 12.9 points and 8.8 rebounds, was expected to be one of the centerpieces of the offense next season.

Abu was not among the college players invited to the NBA combine. He has until May 25 to withdraw his name from the draft and return to college, if he does not hire an agent.

If he decides to transfer, he would have to sit out a season under NCAA rules. Five N.C. State players have transferred out of the program in the past four seasons under Gottfried.

VIDEO: NC State forward Abdul-Malik Abu talks with News and Observer photojournalist Ethan Hyman about coming up short again, but never giving up following the Wolfpack's loss to Duke in the ACC Tournament.

Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio