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October 12, 2012
A different breed of freshmen
Not only is NC State returning four starters from a team that advanced to the Sweet 16, they're adding a trio of McDonald's All-Americans to the roster for the first time in school history.
Wolfpack fans will get their first look at the new-look squad at 7 p.m. tonight at Primetime With The Pack at PNC Arena.
Tonight's event, which will be streamed live on ESPN3.com and live look-ins carried on ESPNU's Midnight Madness coverage, will be the first chance for fans to get a look at North Carolina natives Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis in the Red and White.
The team has added highly-touted groups of freshmen in the past, including in 2010, when the newcomers included four-star point guard Lorenzo Brown, along with five-stars C.J. Leslie and Ryan Harrow. However, this year's group, which was ranked as the No. 4 incoming class in the country by Rivals.com, is unusually special and the current players have already noticed that.
"They're different," Brown noted. "I remember me being a freshman with me, C.J. and Ryan here, and they're a different bunch. I don't see them as freshmen. They're built for college basketball, especially T.J. and Rodney.
"They're ready to play. They're athletic, they can shoot, they can play defense, they have the total package. People don't think Tyler is ready, either, but he's going to surprise a lot of people."
Not only is the collection of talented rookies extraordinary, but the team that they are joining is in a much better place now than 2010, according to Brown.
"My freshman year, we didn't have the leadership we were supposed to," he said. "With us - me, C.J., Richard and Scott being here - showing them the ropes and what they need to do, it pays off for them at the end of the day.
"We're very confident. You always need maturity on teams to be great, and just us being here helps the freshmen out a lot. I think these three guys are like the missing pieces that we need to make it even further in the tournament."
NC State made its run last year with a short bench, but the addition of the rookies will definitely change that.
"I think they give us a lot more depth," wing Scott Wood said. "In the last couple of years, I don't know if we've had that depth; we've only been going six [deep] and reaching for seven at times. It's going to be nice to be able to have a little bit of breathing time if you need it. I think they're going to add a lot of athleticism to our team and give us a different gear that we need.
"I know they have a lot of expectations, and they're really high ranked. At the same time, you're still going to be freshmen, you're still going to have a lot of ups and downs. For them, I think they have a good mindset coming in that they're going to work hard and they're going to earn what's given to them. They've come in here, they're working hard and learning. I think they're going to be really big for us."
All three freshmen mentioned at NC State's media day that the upperclassmen have taken them under their wings and taught them a lot in a short period of time.
"We definitely have big expectations, this is the first time in NC State's history that we've had three McDonald's All-Americans [in the same recruiting class]," Lewis said. "At the same time, we don't have all the pressure because we have four starters back. They're teaching us a lot of things. During a difficult time, we can go to them.
"At a lot of schools when you get three McDonald's All-Americans, they have high expectations and they have to rely on themselves. We have upperclassmen to help. Lorenzo Brown has helped me throughout the whole process here, and he's helping me get better as a player."
The Wolfpacker will have coverage from tonight's Primetime With The Pack and video of the team's scrimmage. We'll also be providing live updates from the event on The State of Basketball message board.