Monday, April 25, 2011

CJ Leslie Returns To NC State

NC State has some good news to begin the Mark Gottfried era: CJ Leslie will return for his sophomore season. Leslie was a highly touted 2010 recruit with oodles of raw talent, but it was the right decision for him. While his skills are clear when you watch him, he's still raw and inefficient offensively. With all of the top players returning for another year of college basketball, Leslie could have been a pretty high draft pick, but he'll develop his offensive game much more being a star with NC State next year than he would if he was in the D-League or sat on an NBA bench. He's certainly not ready to play major minutes in the NBA yet.

When putting together my 2011-12 ACC preview I picked NC State to finish sixth, and I have them on the bubble as one of the first teams out of the NCAA Tournament. When doing that preview I assumed Leslie would return. Certainly my previews are not gospel, and even though I'm picking NC State to end up in the NIT, it wouldn't take a huge leap for them to get into the Field of 68. Particularly since Mark Gottfried, while not a great coach, is no downgrade from Sydney Lowe. But the loss of Leslie really would have greatly damaged any NCAA Tournament hopes. The return of Leslie should have NC State fans optimistic heading into the fall.

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