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July 13, 2009

Analysis: How Brown's absence affects Pack

Over the weekend, sources have indicated that NC State's star recruit in the 2009 class, guard Lorenzo Brown from Centennial High in Roswell, Ga., did not qualify academically and will need to attend a prep school. Here is a look at the potential impact of Brown not being in a Wolfpack uniform this fall.

Load on C.J. Williams?

Most projected Brown as a starter next fall for NC State. Without him, there is a hole at shooting guard that must be filled, and the most logical candidate is sophomore C.J. Williams. Among all the candidates, Williams is the only one that has the combination of size and skills to fill the position. The 6-foot-5, 203-pounder averaged 3.7 points per game as a rookie, but he flashed some potential of being a solid role player for the Pack.

NC State's only other options at two-guard may be sophomore Julius Mays and incoming freshman Scott Wood. Mays though is a bit undersized at 6-foot-2, 188 pounds, and Wood, 6-foot-6, 170 pounds, needs to get stronger. However, Wood will likely be NC State's best outside shooting option. A wildcard could be fifth-year senior Farnold Degand. There was talk last preseason of Degand spending some time at shooting guard.

One potential positive is that if Degand and Mays spend more time at shooting guard, that could mean better ball handling and perhaps less turnovers on the court.

Opportunity knocking

One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity. With Williams now probably spending almost all of his time at shooting guard, a trio of swing players will now have a chance to earn major minutes. In addition to Wood, redshirt sophomore Johnny Thomas and freshman Josh Davis will have a chance to get on the floor more often at wing forward. Both are similar players, athletic wings who need to improve their perimeter skills. Thomas' experience last year may give him an edge if his knee is healthy and not an issue. He gives the Pack an above-the-rim performer and good defensive and rebounding presence on the wing.

Davis will get a quick chance to prove his doubters wrong. NC State surprised recruiting observers when they signed him this spring. Wood though gives NC State an element on the court that neither Davis or Thomas provides, and that's a strong perimeter shooter.

More big lineup?

Another option at the small forward position is senior Dennis Horner. He averaged 6.4 points a game while making 35.4 percent of his three-point attempts as a junior and was one of the Pack's top reserves last season. Horner is listed at 6-foot-9, 218 pounds, and his quickness may be an issue defensively on the wing, but Horner is clearly more comfortable offensively on the perimeter and facing the basket.

Last year NC State played some of their best basketball when coach Sidney Lowe adjusted his starting lineup and put Brandon Costner at small forward and replaced him at power forward with junior Tracy Smith. Costner and center Ben McCauley are gone, but State signed three low post players in Richard Howell, DeShawn Painter and Jordan Vandenberg. Those three will try to fill the void of Costner and McCauley's production and allow Horner to roam the perimeter.

Hurt or help Lowe?

Lowe obviously needs as much good news as possible, and Brown not qualifying is the last development he wanted in his program. However, the one small silver lining could be if Brown enrolls next year, that means he'll come in at the same time as five-star point guard recruit Ryan Harrow from Walton High in Marietta, Ga. The two lifelong friends would form, on paper at least, a potent backcourt that would rival most if not all the backcourts in the ACC. If State can show some strides in 2009, the arrival of Brown and Harrow should spark growing excitement around the Wolfpack program.



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