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September 30, 2011
Senior Rodney Purvis knew he wanted to go to NC State for several weeks, but finally broke the news to Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried on Monday.
Purvis told the rest of the Wolfpack fan base Friday at a ceremony at Raleigh (N.C.) Upper Room Christian Academy. He picked NC State over Connecticut, Memphis, Ohio State, North Carolina Central and Virginia Commonwealth, among others. Rivals.com ranks Purvis the No. 6 overall player and No. 2 point guard in the country.
"All the attention that Coach Gottfried showed me [was the difference]," Purvis said. "He was at all of my games last summer, and if he couldn't make it, one of the assistant coaches was there. I talked to the assistant coaches. They just embraced me over there. Every time I was around [on campus], they wanted me to hang out or hang out with the players."
Purvis also wanted to have the chance to have his friends and family watch him play on TV or at the RBC Center.
"I'm a family-oriented guy and I love my family a lot and my mom," Purvis said. "I just wasn't ready to leave her yet. With Coach Gottfried being a great guy and the great coach that he is, that's just a blessing in disguise for him to get the job at NC State, and for me to join him."
Purvis, who will be attending the Georgia Tech at NC State football game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, said he'll sign with the Wolfpack in November and is done with the recruiting process. He's ready for the challenge of getting NCSU back into the NCAA Tournament and is also excited to play with his good friend and recruiting classmate, senior point guard Tyler Lewis of Statesville, N.C.
Lewis tried to sell Purvis on being "Fire and Ice II," which pays homage to great Wolfpack backcourt of Chris Corchiani and Rodney Monroe.
"It was just in my heart and you can't go against your heart," Purvis said. "It was in my heart to do it now. I could have waited, but I wanted to be second to Tyler and I was just ready to do it. I never thought we'd be playing in college together, but it has worked out for the best."
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Purvis has been a local prep basketball celebrity since the eighth grade. NC State will not only gain a quality guard, who is capable of playing both backcourt positions, but also someone the Raleigh community will rally around to ensure he succeeds.
"With me being the first guy to do it, I think it will definitely be a trendsetter," Purvis said. "I've always been a guy who likes to start something on my own. I'm known as a leader, so NC State was definitely a good pick for me. I'm excited about it."
Purvis isn't making any bold predictions for the future other than he hopes to make some of the home area fans happy to watch him play this season at Upper Room, and then at NC State.
"I want to give something to fans, so they can be happy about it," Purvis said. "In the Triangle, it's always about Duke and North Carolina. Tyler and I, and whoever else we get, and the rest of the team, we can come together and make it exciting in Raleigh again.
"I'm not promising anything, but I think we can be really, really good."
The Plymouth, N.C., native had always wanted to get recruited by NC State but that didn't really become a reality until May 2, 2011, when he made the first in a series of moves that set up his announcement Friday. Purvis decommitted from his nearly five-month verbal pledge to Louisville. Gottfried and his staff quickly made their move and Purvis even heard from him prior to his decommitment.
"I think about that every day because I was once committed to a school out in Louisville, Ky.," Purvis said. "I never questioned it or anything. God knows best, and that is what I went with."
Convincing Purvis' mom, former North Carolina Central basketball player Shanda McNair, might have been the final hurdle for the coaches. McNair didn't believe the previous coaching staff made much of an attempt in recruiting Purvis, which caused her to be a little hesitant when the new staff came in.
"This was a little difficult because this was a long sales cycle," McNair said. "I went from anti-NC State to not only having the coaching staff keep selling me on the benefits, to Rodney himself selling me on it. As his mother, I have to support him because he is the one that has to play. We are excited about it now."
Gottfried was impressively persistent in his pursuit of Purvis.
"What didn't Coach Gottfried say?" McNair said. "Coach Gottfried and that entire staff are just hard workers. I can do nothing at this point but respect them. I put them through a lot. I would have left Rodney a long time ago, but he would always call, say his peace and say, 'Shanda, I'm not going anywhere.' And he didn't. At this point, he probably deserves him."
McNair half-joked that she'll be able to step in whenever he needs something now that he's right down the road for college. She originally liked the idea of having him grow up as a person on his own at a school out of state, but credits the Wolfpack coaches for never giving up.
"He just needs to continue to work hard and to continue to maintain great character," McNair said. "He needs to continue to be true to who he is, and everything will fall into place."
Purvis and Upper Room host a preseason game at 8 p.m. Tuesday, which is sure to have a good turnout of NC State fans in attendance. The regular season kicks off Nov. 8 at Red Springs (N.C.) Flora MacDonald.
Purvis has watched the local fans embrace past stars like John Wall (who came to the ceremony Friday) and current Wolfpack sophomore C.J. Leslie. He also has played in the North Carolina Pro-Am in front of packed crowds at North Carolina Central. He won't be lacking for attention this season.
"You are definitely put on a different pedestal than anybody else," Purvis said. "You are an NC State [commit]. They are expecting you to turn things around. They are great fans and won't ever talk down about you, but they want to be excited about something. The players should want to excite them, and I'm definitely that kind of guy."