N.C. State Wolfpack (Last Year: 20-16, 5-11 in ACC)
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
F/C: Tracy Smith (Sr)/Jordan Vandenberg (So)/Deshawn Painter (So)
PF: C.J. Leslie (Fr)/Richard Howell (So)
SF: Scott Wood (So)
SG: Lorenzo Brown (Fr)/C.J. Williams (Jr)
PG: Javier Gonzalez (Sr)/Ryan Harrow (Fr)
Gone: F-Dennis Horner, PG-Farnald Degand, SG-Julius Mays (transfer-Wright State), SF-Josh Davis (transfer-Tulane), SF-Johnny Thomas (transfer-Marshall)
Sidney Lowe's four seasons at N.C. State have not exactly been loaded with success. The Wolfpack have failed to win more than six conference games in a single season since Lowe became the head man at his alma mater. That is about to change this year.
N.C. State returns a fair amount of talent despite losing three players via transfer. However, it is the extremely talented trio of freshmen that has helped create so much buzz about the Wolfpack.
McDonald's All-American C.J. Leslie is by far the best recruit Lowe has landed since arriving in Raleigh, and will be an immediate impact freshman. Fellow newcomers Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow are consensus top-50 recruits and will contribute right away in the backcourt.
After briefly flirting with the NBA Draft, Tracy Smith returns to anchor the frontcourt. Smith had a breakout season a year ago and was appropriately named All-ACC second team. He will anchor a frontcourt that will also feature Leslie with sophomores Richard Howell, Jordan Vandenberg and Deshawn Painter again coming off the bench.
Senior point guard Javier Gonzalez should retain his starting position but will undoubtedly be pushed by Harrow. Scott Wood brings his ability to shoot the rock to the floor while C.J. Williams provides experience and physicality off the bench.
There is not a whole lot of depth for the Wolfpack this season as they only have 10 scholarship players. An injury or two could prove to be very costly. If N.C. State can stay healthy and their freshmen are as good as advertised, Lowe should find some job security this season as the Wolfpack earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Player to Watch: C.J. Leslie, F
Every year I watch the McDonald's and Jordan Brand All-Star games, and fall in love with somebody. Two years ago it was Tyreke Evans and last year it was John Wall. This past summer, Leslie really caught my eye.
At 6-8, he is a crazy athletic, high-flying rim rocker. His athleticism will allow him to play the three, while his leaping ability and length should log him plenty of minutes at the four. Leslie is an absolute terror in the open floor, and if he can display a steady outside jumper, he could easily be a one-and-done.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/19 vs. Charlotte/George Mason (Charleston Classic)
11/21 vs. Georgetown/Coastal Carolina/Wofford/USC Upstate(Charleston Classic)
I had the Panthers taking a right tackle with the last pick of the second round for weeks. I thought it would be David Sharpe, but Moton is a good pick and is a physical blocker to open holes for Christian McCaffrey.