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Dennis Smith Jr. discusses his decision to attend NC State

Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images

NC State's efforts to land coveted point guard Dennis Smith Jr. date back to Smith's sophomore season in high school, and it was the commitment on the staff's part that ultimately played a significant factor in landing him. (The helicopter visit didn't hurt, either.)

Smith is a rare elite prospect to eschew both Duke and North Carolina for NC State, but as he told the N&O's Joe Giglio, he doesn't have a problem going with a program that hasn't reached an elite level:

"When it comes to Duke and North Carolina, N.C. State is viewed as the underdog," Smith said in an interview Thursday. "I told coach Gottfried, I like being the underdog."

This is the attitude NC State needs from its players--guys who want to forge their own legacies by working to take a less-prestigious program to a high level, rather than simply move through the turnstiles at Kentucky or UNC or Kansas. With Smith's help, the Wolfpack could have some elite years ahead of it, but we still have a lot to sort out between now and 2016.

Smith, who grew up in a Wolfpack household, knew NC State was a potential landing spot for him, but as he told Bret Strelow of the Fayetteville Observer, he'd still planned some visits. That is until the helicopter visit on Wednesday made him re-evaluate the big picture.

"My initial plan was to take a couple visits, but when they came in on the helicopter and they were the first guys to visit me, thinking about the situation they have with the players they have and who'll be there next year, I couldn't think of a reason to prolong something like that," Smith said.

Now that he's on board as the first official member of NC State's 2016 class, his focus is turning to recruiting other players. He told Giglio that Bam Adebayo was the first person he contacted after he made his decision, and Adebayo won't be the last. State is after elite scoring guard Rawle Alkins, who recently announced his transfer to Word of God in Raleigh. The Pack is not the favorite to land Alkins now, but the trajectory of his recruitment could change significantly between his transfer and Smith's announcement.

Then there is De'Aaron Fox, who would likely fill a combo guard role alongside Smith if he opted to come here. Fox has played the point in high school but has expressed no concerns about potentially playing alongside Smith.

But first and foremost, the task for State will be securing Adebayo's verbal. If the staff can get that done--with Smith's help--then maybe this recruiting class really takes off.