When Mark Gottfried took over at NC State he scrambled to keep together the recruiting class and brought in Thomas de Thaey. But the next class was his first real one. And the first recruit who verbally committed was Rodney Purvis, a consensus 5* hometown kid. A month later, two more highly rated players committed to the Wolfpack and suddenly the excitement was back in the fan base.
Entering this season the media and the coaches pegged NC State as the preseason favorites and there was swagger back in Raleigh. A huge recruiting class. Potential bragging rights. Things were looking up.
But the magic never materialized during the season, and the Pack limped to a tie for 4th place in the ACC and got bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
And now Gottfried's first star recruit is leaving for the University of Connecticut.
UConn was his runner up out of high school, so the choice shouldn't be a surprise.
So what should UConn fans expect?
For most of the season Purvis exhibited a great attitude on the court. He had a typical freshman year in that his effort often ebbed and flowed, but there certainly weren't any red flags about his ability to be coached. Somewhere though, things changed. After starting all but two games through mid-February, he was benched and didn't start another game all season. His minutes dropped. His production dropped. And though his body language remained strong, he wasn't the same kid who smiled all the time. He just did his thing. Then the season ended, and he was gone.
There is no shortage of history with players losing faith in Coach Gottfried, so UConn fans shouldn't be worried. By all accounts he's a good kid.
His game – when he's playing his best – is full-attack mode. He can get to the rim. He's great in transition. And he's a fairly creative finisher around the rim. When he's not playing his best he has a tendency to pull-up for jumpers instead of attacking. He's also an excellent 3-point shooter, and made 39% of his attempts. 93% of them were assisted though, a good illustration that his strength is off the ball. At 6-2, 195, he's a bit small for a big time guard, but he's physically mature and is an excellent athlete.
The major holes in his game are his horrible FT shooting (51%) and his non-existent role in other aspects of a 2-guards game. He doesn't rebound – his defensive rebounding rate was lower even than Scott Wood and Tyler Lewis (who is 5-11 and might weigh 160) – and he rarely picks up an assist. He either scores or resets the offense.
The good news is that he'll have to sit out a year. This will allow him to work on whatever mental issue is causing the poor free throw shooting, and the staff will have him in practice for an entire season. He'll need to develop his ability to distribute the ball as his future is as a combo guard who can run the offense when needed.