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College Basketball Preview: 6. NC State Wolfpack

6. NC State Wolfpack 24-13 in 2011 (9-7 ACC)

No I didn't mistake this team for North Carolina. The Wolfpack, who made the Sweet 16 last season one year after firing head coach Sidney Lowe, return four starters and bring a trio of top freshman. One of those returning starters is guard Lorenzo Brown who could end up being right in the middle of the ACC Player of the Year race. The last time NC State won the ACC was 24 years ago. With the return of all those stars that streak could end easily. No wait, it will end easily.

Lorenzo Brown

Backcourt: Brown looks to start at point guard for Mark Gottfried but he shouldn't pass the ball too much. Brown does damage inside and out with an excellent nose for the hoop and ability to hit mid and long range shots. Freshman Tyler Lewis, a McDonald's All-American, should end up backing up Brown. Lewis is considered the point guard of the future for NC State but should pick up occasional minutes. He is small standing at just 5 feet 11 inches and just 157 pounds. He can't create much shots but can hit anything when given space. Another freshman, Rodney Purvis, will see a lot of minutes at both shooting guard and small forward. Due to the fact that Gottfried needs a guard to replace C.J. Williams he'll see most of his time there. Purvis is explosive and can score anytime the ball is thrown in his direction. He isn't a great defender though and has some weak spots. Staats Battle could be dominant just because of his name. Something to note: LSU transfer Ralston Turner won't play this season but expect him to be a major contributor in the near future.

C.J. Leslie
Frontcourt: C.J. Leslie decided to return instead of skipping out on his junior and senior years for the NBA. It was a smart move as he still has some stuff he needs to work on. Leslie has size to fit at power forward and maybe even center but doesn't fit well at either. He can make every shot in the paint area and can gain rebounds. The breakout star on this team could be forward Richard Howell who has improved every year in Raleigh. Howell can score double digits every single game but also is the team's top rebounder, averaging 9.2 a game last season. In fact, he is the returning leader at rebounds in the ACC. The scariest player on offense for the Wolfpack may well be Scott Wood who can hit any shot on the court. And remember not to foul him, as he made 66 straight at one point last season. Gottfried should also receive contributions from freshmen Thomas de Thaey and T.J. Warren.

Top NBA Prospect: C.J. Leslie
ACC Rank: 1st
PG Lorenzo Brown- Junior
SG Rodney Purvis- Freshman
SF Scott Wood- Senior
PF C.J. Leslie- Junior
C Richard Howell- Senior
Sixth Tyler Lewis- Freshman

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