Every season there are a few outlier teams who receive a ton of preseason hype. This year one of those teams is NC State. The Wolfpack finished last year strong (in the Sweet 16) and then saw star CJ Leslie opt out of the NBA draft, which meant four starters returned. NCSU has been listed in multiple preseason top-10s, and even been named by a few national writers as the favorite in the ACC (which is insane). They brought in a very talented recruiting class, and as luck would have it, this is the year the Wolfpack are eligible for an overseas trip. This means extra practices and competition. And for a team with an influx of young talent, this is huge.
But yesterday they released the unfortunate news that one of those talented freshman – SG Rodney Purvis – won't be making the trip to Spain. It seems he hasn't been cleared by the NCAA.
Purvis is the most important of the freshman because he was penciled in to the starting lineup. The only starter NCSU lost from last year's team was guard CJ Williams, and Purvis should take his spot. The reason he should take his spot is partially due to his talent, but also due to the fact that coach Gottfried doesn't have many options. Last year's team was thin, and this year's team might be thinner.
Gottfried's first season saw the Wolfpack go with a seven man rotation. Outside of those seven, not a single player was on the floor for even 2% of the team's minutes. Four of those seven return. Alex Johnson and CJ Williams graduated, while DeShawn Painter transferred to Old Dominion. The recruiting class was four players. Ralston Turner – a transfer from LSU – has to sit out a year, which leaves the three freshmen. And Purvis is having eligibility issues.
Now they head to Spain without Purvis. They also won't have starting point guard Lorenzo Brown, who is still recovering from knee surgery. This leaves freshman Tyler Lewis, and senior Scott Wood as the only scholarship players in the back court. Wood has spent his first three seasons playing on the wing, but will add some point guard duties this year – again, because of lack of options.
The front court is in slightly better condition. DeShawn Painter's transfer hurts them, but they at least have big bodies if needed. CJ Leslie, Richard Howell and freshman TJ Warren should all get major minutes. 7-1 center Jordan Vandenberg is back from his injury which caused him to miss most of last season, and sophomore Thomas De Thaey saw a few minutes as a freshman.
The end result is that even if Purvis is cleared, and even if Lorenzo Brown returns at full speed following his torn meniscus, the Wolfpack are thin. If those things don't happen, or injuries to other players do…. Well, you do the math.