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April 1, 2013

C.J. Leslie moves on to NBA

The news broke last Tuesday that NC State junior power forward C.J. Leslie was going to join junior teammate Lorenzo Brown and enter the draft.

Leslie met with the media Monday to discuss his decision, and was joined by his mother, Lisa Leslie, and NCSU second-year coach Mark Gottfried.

Leslie, who is projected to go in the late first round or early second, was voted the preseason ACC player of the year by league coaches and media. He ended up averaging 15.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 61.2 at the line.

The 6-foot-8, 200-pound Leslie was voted third-team All-ACC after the Wolfpack finished 24-11 overall and 11-7 in the ACC, which was good for fifth place.

Leslie had 20 points and five rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds in the Wolfpack's 76-72 loss to Temple on March 22, which proved to be his last game at his home area school.

DraftExpress.com has Leslie ranked No. 35 overall, but that can easily change if players return to college, combined with impressive workouts this spring. The 21-year-old will need to settle on a position for the NBA, whether power forward with increased strength or small forward if he develops his perimeter skills and long-range shooting — 13 of 48 in his career from three-point land.

The Holly Springs, N.C., native arrived to NC State with great fanfare after a long drown out, and complicated recruitment.

Leslie originally committed to NC State on June 22, 2007, following his freshman season at Holly Springs High. Former NCSU assistant coach Larry Harris originally locked up the commitment.

Leslie attended one NC State home game during his junior year at Raleigh Word of God and subsequently opened up his recruitment March 15, 2009. NC State coach Sidney Lowe took over his recruitment, but his mother proved to be the Wolfpack's best ally, with an assist to then Holy Rams coach Erasto Hatchett, who is the brother-in-law of then Wolfpack commit Ryan Harrow. The latter was in the news this weekend after transferring from Kentucky to Georgia State.

NC State grinded through Leslie's senior season, which was marked by a berth to the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic, and he finally rewarded the Wolfpack with a verbal commitment April 28, 2010.

C.J. Leslie audio press conference (9:39)

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