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March 4, 2009

Reflections on NC State's three seniors

The NC State trio of shooting guard Courtney Fells, center Ben McCauley and forward Simon Harris are playing their last regular season home game tonight against Boston College at the RBC Center.

The Wolfpacker reflects back on the careers of the three players and the impact they've made on NC State basketball. McCauley became the 42nd player in NC State history to reach 1,000 points, when he did it against Miami on Jan. 27. Fells soon followed when he reached the 1,000-point milestone against Georgia Tech on Feb. 14.

McCauley is one of nine players in school history with over 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds and 150 assists. He enters tonight's game with 1,098 points, 599 rebounds and 223 assists in 121 games. He also is shooting 53.7 percent for his career.

Fells has amassed 1,045 points, 342 rebounds, 127 assists, 98 steals and 71 blocks with the Wolfpack.

Harris was able to fulfill a dream when he transferred from Elon to NC State following the 2005-2006 season. The Wolfpack graduate grew up cheering for NC State and has received the opportunity to be coached by his father, assistant coach Larry Harris. Simon Harris has started three games his senior year and can always be counted on for hustle and doing the little things when he takes the court.

Signature moments: Fells' moment came when he lit up North Carolina at the RBC Center for a career-high 21 points his sophomore season. He went 8 of 11 from the field and 4 of 5 from three-point land in the 83-79 win Feb. 3, 2007.

Perhaps the most memorable play for McCauley was when he inbounded the ball in a home game against Wake Forest his junior year. He then sprinted down the court, watched Gavin Grant shoot a pull-up jumper and slammed home the miss at the buzzer for a 67-65 win over the Demon Deacons on Feb. 3, 2008. McCauley finished with 11 points in the win.

Harris earned his first start against Winston-Salem State on Dec. 13, 2008, and scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes in the 74-46 victory. He went on to start in wins over East Carolina and Lipscomb.

Lasting impressions: Fells has battled a nagging ankle injury for parts of his senior season, but has showed his usually flashes of brilliance, but is still searching for that elusive consistency.

Fells often guards the opponents top perimeter player, which sometimes takes away from his offense. He has gone on big scoring binges, and had a three-game stretch this season - against Miami, North Carolina and North Carolina Central - where he went 13 of 22 from three-point land and averaged 20.3 per game.

However, Fells enters tonight's game against Boston College averaging 8.5 points the last four games.

McCauley will always be remembered for his nifty passing and hustle inside. After a difficult junior year when his statistics dropped to 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, he has bounced back to average 12.3 points and 7.8 boards a contest.

McCauley is best when he dives into the lane with his little hook shot, usually off a counter move. Shot-blockers have given him trouble his senior year, but he's been consistent with eight games where he got double digits in points and rebounds, and 20 contests where he has scored 10 points or more.

Harris has shown when given the chance to be a spark on defense with his offense and in your face style. He is also able to sky for alley-oops and runs the floor well. He only has one career three-pointer at NC State, so his offense came from around the hoop.

Contrasting personalities: The three seniors are each a little different when being interviewed.

Fells tends to be more low-key compared to McCauley and Harris, but when he says something important, you take it seriously. He has tried to become more of a team leader his senior year, and when he does speak up, it's easy to believe his teammates listen intently.

Harris is always jovial and with a smile for anyone who comes across him. Harris knows his role on the court is to provide hustle and defense and provide a spark. His gregariousness off the court is contagious.

McCauley is a little in-between Fells and Harris. Reporters always gather around him after games because he gives well-thought out and sincere answers, whether the Wolfpack win or lose.

Little known tidbits: All three seniors have some connection to football. Fells was a talented quarterback who some say can sling the football well over 50-60 yards. Harris also played football in high school at Raleigh Milbrook High, and some believe he'd make a heck of a tight end or defensive end. McCauley loves his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers.

McCauley and Harris played traveling team basketball in Pittsburgh when Harris was splitting time living with his mother in Pittsburgh and father in Raleigh. Harris has never once worn Duke or North Carolina clothes.

The 6-foot-9 McCauley is an avid golfer and would love to design a golf course one day.

Fells grew up in Verona, Miss., which has a population of 3,379, and his nickname as a little kid was Pooh Bear, which has now been shortened to Bear.

Surprising fact: Harris started and played more than Fells and McCauley combined his freshman season in 2004-2005, just at a different school.

Harris started 14 games and played 636 minutes his freshman season at Elon. He later transferred to NC State following his sophomore year.

Fells and McCauley didn't start their freshman seasons at NC State. McCauley played 187 minutes in 27 games, while Fells played 131 minutes in 17.

Biggest "wow" play: Fells' block at Duke his junior year will always be one for the ages. He blocked 6-8 power forward Lance Thomas and snatched the ball in one hand, then whipped it ahead to Javi Gonzalez, who then flipped it ahead to Gavin Grant for a big block.

Best dunk: McCauley's dunk had the most meaning in the win over Wake Forest, but Fells' has become a YouTube sensation with his various soaring dunks. His power dunk against Seton Hall was memorable, and his windmill jam against Davidson his junior year was impressive.

Academic majors: Harris graduated with a B.S. degree in sociology last summer. Fells is majoring in public relations and McCauley in sports management.

Rivals.com prep rankings: Fells was ranked No. 24 nationally and the No. 7 shooting guard, McCauley was No. 92 overall and No. 22 at power forward.

Records while at NC State: Fells and McCauley head into tonight's game against Boston College with a 72-54 record at NC State, while Harris 30-28 in his two years with the Wolfpack.


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