When NC State landed CJ Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, and Ryan Harrow in the 2010 recruiting season many State fans were thrilled that NC State was able to pull a top 5 recruiting class. Even though Sidney Lowe had yet to win anything of significance with NC State, had missed out on local top point guard John Wall the year before, and had no history of showing that he could mold top talent; he had yet pulled one of the best recruiting classes NC State has seen. Many State fans thought that with talent, Sidney Lowe could finally start producing results.
I remember looking ahead towards the 2012 class. I saw several names, Torian Graham, TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis. All from the triangle area and all ranked high in the class. I thought to myself, 'Man it would be nice to carry this momentum in recruiting and pull some of those guys'.
Fast Forward to today, TJ Warren selects NC State has his college destination. Ryan Harrow is no longer with the team from that 2010 recruiting class but Lorenzo Brown and CJ Leslie are. State fans have Sidney Lowe to thank for that. Without them I seriously doubt that we'd have the class we have today. Those two guys' talent has given local products hope. Hope that if they join forces they can make NC State a player on the national scene in college basketball. That NC State would no longer be a desolate desert where college coaches went to wallow in the sandstorm created by the expectations set by the mirages down tobacco road. Where no one would suggest that NC State cannot recruit with those mirages, UNC and Duke. No one would look on the calendar and mark NC State down as a notch in the Win column.
Tyler Lewis was the first to commit to NC State under the Sidney Lowe reign. He kept his commitment to NC State after Mark Gottfried took over. NC State lost two recruits in the transition, two recruits that no one regrets leaving at this point.
Lorenzo Brown was a big reason for getting Lewis; Brown's game was respected by Lewis. Then came another commitment. After Torian Graham committed many people were surprised but it didn't make big waves in the recruiting community. It was nice, but Torian was never a game changing player and when he had knee surgery he began to dip in the rankings. All the while Rodney Purvis had de-committed from Louisville after an assistant coach left to join the Missouri staff. Lewis began to recruit Purvis. There were rumors that Purvis might join Graham and Lewis. There were also rumors that Purvis and Graham wouldn't play together. No one really knew though, then the NC State ish happened. Graham de-committed from State months after his decision stating he had rushed his decision. Kentucky became his new leader and there were rumors that recently transferred point guard Ryan Harrow and Graham's brother influenced this decision. Whatever it was, many State fans bemoaned NC State propensity to attract bad news. There seemed to be a lull with Duke seemingly the leader for Purvis, many expected NC State to follow the same pattern fans were accustomed to; fade into being irrelevant again.
Then Purvis committed to State and there was excitement again. State had set the groundwork for an outstanding class with Purvis. The recruiting world shook as Purvis was the game changing recruit, ranked in the top 20 of the 2012 class but many were still unconvinced that he would be enough for State. As Jay-Z said in his song 'The Takeover' "We don't believe you, you need more people."
NC State got more people today.
With today's commitment from TJ Warren, State has fired shots at the rest of the ACC. An ACC that has only two teams that will be in the top 25 at the tip off of this season. A perfect storm has formed and NC State is right in the middle of it. A down ACC, ACC expansion, the Purvis de-commitment, the 2010 recruiting class, three stars in NC, and a new coach have combined to give State a real shot at turning the big 2 to a big 3 in the ACC which will soon become a big 5 when Pitt and Syracuse join the conference.
TJ Warren gives state another scorer. You will not be able to double team Purvis or anyone on this NC State offense. 2012 looks to be a pick your poison offense for State. While Lewis, Purvis, and Warren will all be freshmen and expected to have their freshman mistakes, their talent is undeniable. Insulated with upperclassmen like Lorenzo Brown, possibly CJ Leslie, Richard Howell, Deshawn Painter, and Scott Wood, the freshmen have a chance of doing exactly what the 2010 class set out to do. Put NC State on the map.
TJ Warren can hit the three, hit the jump shot, drive to the basket, and being listed at 6'7 (some have him listed at 6'8) he'll have a size advantage over most small forwards in college and be able to back them down in the paint. With Purvis being able to penetrate and get to the hoop, as soon as you help on Purvis, Warren will be open often to get his shot off. Warren also has the ability to get his own shot off when needed.
In 2010 far too often State would go into shooting droughts that would cost them leads or even bigger deficits because no one was able to get off their own shot consistently enough. Defenses knew to pack the lane and guard Wood, he was the only consistent outside threat. Having more than one guy to hit the three prevents teams from packing the lane and will open things up for Purvis, CJL, and Howell. NC State's offense just got more dynamic.
For the program this adds momentum into 2013. NC State has one more scholarship left for the 2012 season, that scholarship will go to Amile Jefferson or Andrew White if they pick the pack. Jefferson is a PF who is ranked right with Warren and Andrew White is a 6'6 SG who is a top 60 player. Most likely NC State will be done recruiting for the 2012 season by November 16, the end of the early signing period. This will allow them to focus all their recruiting attention on 2013. This will be the big man class, players like Noel, Meeks, and Anyja (Sp) are all top 50 players in the 2013 class, all big men, all listing NC State. State will be in need of big men in 2013 as Howell, Painter, Vandenburg, and Leslie will be gone. There will be plenty of chance for playing time for these guys. The foundation has been set with the 2012 class, big men love playing with players who can get them the ball and make their life easier on the post by drawing attention away. I expect this momentum to ride into the 2013 class just as the 2010 class did for 2012.
For Mark Gottfried it does a couple of things. First it raises expectations for the 2012 season. Gottfried hadn't coached a game yet for NC State and already has excitement at a fever pitch. He has been everything State needed in their new coach. You can't imagine any other coach doing better on the recruiting trail than Gottfried has. It really makes a statement that NC State is the STATE school. If you are a top player in NC you don't have to go to UNC, you can go to STATE and become legends. It also gives Gottfried a lot of options for 2012. He will be able to play with his lineup to find what works the best, the best roles for players and etc. As always it gives more depth. When Scott Wood leaves the court a talented player will be coming off the bench. How many times in the last 20 years has a five star player came off the bench for NC State? That's huge in college.
When Gottfried was hired, I didn't know anything about him. After I did some research I was convinced he was a homerun hire. His resume spoke for itself and he assembled a great team of assistance coaches. There is the fear that Harrick could be too close to the team but thats the only fear I have. All that is left now is for Gottfried to win on the basketball court. In college basketball talent wins 80% of the time. Look at UNC, Roy Williams gets great talent and does well with it. If Roy Williams didn't have the talent, I doubt he'd be as successful as he is today. NC State is starting to get talent like UNC.
Watch out ACC.