Double whammy for Pack: Leslie to NBA, Purvis to transfer
N.C. State suffered a pair of serious jolts to its 2013-14 basketball roster — one expected, one not so much — on Monday when 6-9 junior forward C.J. Leslie announced he was joining teammate Lorenzo Brown and skipping his final season to enter the NBA draft.
Compounding the loss of Leslie was State’s announcement that rising sophomore guard Rodney Purvis, widely expected to be the second best returning player on next year’s team, has been granted a release and will transfer.
“It’s one of those things where you just know it’s just time, it’s time to move on,” Leslie said Monday during a news conference at the team’s practice facility. “That’s what I feel like in my heart. My family, they feel the same way I do. It was just one of those things where we felt like it was time to move on.”
The 6-foot-9 forward was the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year. He averaged a team-high 15 points to go with 7.4 rebounds while shooting nearly 52 percent from the floor. He was a third-team all-ACC pick by both the media and the coaches after ranking in the top 10 in the league in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage.
Leslie, who arrived under former coach Sidney Lowe, started 85 of his 99 career games and led the team in scoring as a sophomore as well.
His decision comes four days after Brown, a point guard, announced his decision, though neither move was a surprise.
Purvis’ decision was a surprise. As a freshman, Purvis, who played his high school basketball at Raleigh’s Upper Room Christian, averaged 8.3 points in 35 appearances this season, starting 23.
Purvis was one of three McDonald’s All-Americans to join the Wolfpack this season.
“I have enjoyed every moment of my time here at N.C. State,” said Purvis. “All of the people involved with the program have been great. However, I feel like it’s time for me to make a fresh start, step outside of my comfort zone and continue my career in a new environment.”
No other explanation was given for Purvis’ departure.
“Rodney was instrumental in our run to the NCAA Tournament this season,” said head coach Mark Gottfried, who granted the transfer to any school, with the exception of all ACC institutions, including new members Notre Dame, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, as well as the University of Missouri and Cincinnati, which are planned to be on the institution’s upcoming non-conference schedule. “We appreciate his contributions and wish him the very best in his future.”
Gottfried said he believes there’s a “strong likelihood” that Leslie will be a first-round draft pick.
“I think he’s confident right now that this is the right time for him personally and I think he’s going to do very well,” Gottfried said. “I’m sad he’s leaving the program, but I’m excited. I think this is where his heart is and I think he’s going to be very, very good.”
N.C. State will lose four full-timestarters from this year’s 24-win team, including seniors Richard Howell and Scott Wood. Purvis and fellow rising sophomore T.J. Warren, a Durham native, each filled the fifth starting role for the Wolfpack this season, Purvis early and Warren later.
The Wolfpack should get Warren and point guard classmate Tyler Lewis back, and have signed a three-man recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-America point guard Anthony “Cat” Barber.
The Wolfpack will also add LSU transfer Ralston Turner to the backcourt.