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Why CJ Leslie’s Recommitment Means Just As Much Off The Court Than On

April 29, 2010
This evening, CJ Leslie recommitted to the Pack.

Leslie’s decision was met with a predictable response by the online State community: OMG WOOOOOOOOOOOO YEAH PACK IS BACK BEER ME!!!!!!11, if can paraphrase a bit.

There’s good reason to be excited about the news, as Leslie–one of the top 15 players nationally–joins two other 5-star recruits to form State’s best recruiting class in decades. After struggling with below-average talent for the better part of Sidney Lowe’s tenure, State’s talent level has grown exponentially in just one recruiting class.

But I believe that Leslie’s commitment will mean just as much off the court than on it.

Think about where State was last May.

They were locked in battle with Kentucky and Duke, among others, for the services of local high school phenom John Wall. Wall was often found playing pick-up ball with the State’s players when not off taking official and unofficial visits. Reports at the time were that Wall’s family felt better about John staying close to home to play for coach Lowe, whom the Walls viewed as a sort of mentor and father figure.

Ultimately, however, Wall committed to play for the Wildcats. Despite all the plusses in State’s favor–location, camaraderie with the players and connection with the coaching staff–many felt there was just no realistic way State could’ve dared to swim “in the big boy pool” and come out ahead.

Well, flash forward to today. In a scenario with a lot of similarities–a local phenom from Wall’s high school, often playing pick-up ball with the current team, with a strong family connection to Lowe and the coaching staff–State faced nearly the same challenge: going toe-to-toe with John Calipari and Kentucky on the recruiting trail.

Only this time, instead of Slick Cal swooping into State’s backyard to snag Leslie, just as he’s done with so many of the other top prospects across the country, Sidney Lowe and N.C. State “protected their turf,” so to speak, and kept one of the nation’s best at home. It’s no small feat, considering what State was up against in Cal, Worldwide Wes and the Kentucky program. Calipari–and his team of recruiters–are the best closers in the college basketball world, and on this one, Sidney out “pitched” them.

I may be over-dramatizing things a bit for effect, but Leslie’s recommitment is not just landing another top-flight recruit. Given where he plays high school ball and whom the other suitor was in the Leslie Sweepstakes, his decision to recommit to State after decommiting will have tangible positive impacts on the State basketball program before he even steps foot onto the RBC Center floor in November.

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