When Terry Henderson transferred to N.C. State last year, Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried joked that he messed up recruiting Henderson the first time around and he wasn’t going to mess it up again. Thursday, Gottfried was saying the same thing about Torin Dorn, who will sit out this season after transferring from Charlotte.
Gottfried and his staff weren’t alone among Power 5 programs in overlooking Dorn out of high school in Charlotte, but when the Conference USA freshman of the year decided to leave the 49ers after a coaching change, N.C. State was one of many powerhouses to pursue Dorn.
“It was definitely exciting,” Dorn said Thursday at N.C. State’s media day. “I always knew I had the ability to play at this level. It was just a matter of time before everybody else knew. It was a great experience to get those phone calls that I felt like I should have had the whole time.”
Dorn becomes the latest in a long line of N.C. State transfers under Gottfried that goes back to Alex Johnson, who was immediately eligible in Gottfried’s first season after graduating from Cal State Bakersfield. Johnson led to Ralston Turner who led to Trevor Lacey who led to Henderson who led to Dorn.
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Johnson’s experience was a key stabilizing influence on that Sweet 16 team in 2012. Turner and Lacey accounted for more than 40 percent of N.C. State’s scoring on last season’s Sweet 16 team, and with Turner graduating and Lacey unexpectedly departing to play professionally in Italy, Henderson has big shoes to fill after sitting out last season.
The Raleigh native played at Neuse Christian Academy before playing two seasons at West Virginia, where he averaged 8.0 points as a freshman and 11.7 as a sophomore. Considerable improvement on those numbers will be expected at N.C. State, with Henderson and point guard Cat Barber the two most obvious candidates to fill the scoring void left by Turner and Lacey.
The Wolfpack could really use Dorn as well, with the lack of a backup to Barber the biggest and most pressing question among many facing N.C. State. But he’ll spend this season watching instead, an experience he and Henderson have discussed at length.
“A year really is a long time,” Henderson said. “At the end of the day I feel like it was good for me. Everything happens for a reason. That was my year to really, really get better – on my craft, school, everything.”
“He told me it’s definitely a long year,” Dorn said. “There are times when you feel like you should be playing and you’re like, ‘Why did I do this?’ ”
Dorn will spend the year working on his shooting and playing both guard positions, having played primarily on the wing at Charlotte – leading the 49ers with 12.0 points per game – after spending his senior year of high school at point guard. Whether Barber is back for his senior season next year or not, Gottfried sees Dorn as a 6-foot-5 combo guard going forward, “an important piece for us.” In retrospect, Gottfried admits that’s how N.C. State should have seen Dorn in high school.
“You can’t take everybody,” Gottfried said. “That’s just the way the world works. He was a guy we liked as a high school player. For a lot of different reasons, we didn’t recruit him very hard. Sometimes in recruiting you make decisions and you look back and say, ‘I may have made a mistake there. I should have recruited that guy a little harder than I did.’ He was probably one of those guys for our staff.”
He might have missed on Henderson and Dorn then, but N.C. State is counting on them now, Henderson this season, both of them next season.
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock