Good NEWS Everyone!
Bad NEWS Everyone!
It's JJ Hickson & CJ Leslie. Currently there is little to no word on what will happen to fan favorites Wood, Howell and 2nd-rounder Lorenzo Brown but I think its curious to monitor the reactions to these guys who have signed. Look, I come from the age old perspective that if you wear the jersey and/or get a degree (called the Russell Wilson Principle) from NC State you're a Wolfpacker "4 Life" Yet there seems to be a sentiment among some fans that Leslie shouldn't be praised and that Hickson isn't really a member of the family, much of it similar to reactions to David Amerson. Where does this come from?
For CJL, we can just recap message boards and blog posts for the past three years. While Leslie had plenty of moments of in the sun (Sweet 16 run, the first Carolina game 2013, Wheelchair Incident) he also had numerous questionable situations (a few suspensions, the second Carolina game 2013, bad poetry). Some fans cannot see past the idea that CJL never met his potential and did not lead State into the promised land. It'll be curious to see how State fans will receive him as he embarks on the NBA...I suppose it may be simple: if he's successful we always loved him, if not then we juuuuuust knew he wasn't great all along.
Hickson brings a whole different scenario into play. Quick, someone name the most successful NBA player to have previously suited up for NC State in the past 5 years? 10? 15? Even though Josh Powell has two rings, it's gotta be JJ Hickson. Drafted in the first round, Hickson has played for Sacramento, Portland and now Denver. Last year was his best year in the league after starting 80 games and judging by Denver's style of play, he may see even more success. Yet the problem with JJ is we remember his time at NC State as a time we'd like to forget. On paper, Sid Lowe's second team had the talent to do some damage in the ACC and NCAAs...they did neither. In-fighting, bad coaching, uninspired play all led to one of the most disappointing seasons we've seen based on expectations. Hickson came and went, and outside of a few dominating performances (mostly in losing efforts), it barely felt like he was here. State fans tend to forget him or barely acknowledge his existence, yet for a while there he was our one and only ambassador to the NBA. (Also contrast this: Hickson's signing may cause roster complications for one of the most memorable, beloved Wolfpackers in 4 year PF Richard Howell)
So as the days, weeks, and months pass...at least one more State player will sign with a team, and eventually we may have as many as 4-5 players competing in the NBA. Most definitely we wish Julius Hodge had a long, storied NBA career...yes, we want Richard Howell to prove his doubters wrong, for Tracy Smith to have "Macrowaved" the competition and for Scott Wood to hit late game-Ray Allen-ish threes in an important game...but although Hickson & Leslie may not necessarily be the players we WANT to cheer for in the NBA...they are the players we HAVE...and that's all we need...