Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 12/26/12
RALEIGH, N.C. -- C.J. Leslie may finally be turning a new leaf. As the most ridiculed basketball player along Tobacco Road the last two years, and with good reason, Leslie is showing signs of maturity, growth and even the instincts of a great player. Look no further than last Saturdays rout of visiting St. Bonaventure as the latest and perhaps greatest example of his ascent. The long-armed, 6-foot-9 super-talent recognized a Wolfpack need with senior forward Richard Howell in foul trouble, then showed the kind of controlled aggressiveness that can make him a star on the collegiate level and desired high draft pick by the NBA. Leslie totaled 33 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots, a pair of assists and one steal. As important, however, is that Leslie did this all within the framework of the Wolfpacks philosophies. He didnt set out to put on the C.J. Leslie Show like he has in the past. This was a mature 33 points. It was about scoring when the team needed based on what was there. It was about recognizing teammates. It was about having a feel for a game that can one day make him a lot of money. It was about being an All-American. I just saw I had to hustle and step up, Leslie said. Richard was in a little foul trouble. The thing is, Leslie didnt launch his new-and-improved self once Howell went to the bench. This process began several games ago and dates back to a two-point performance in a blowout loss to Oklahoma State in November. Leslie, who leads the Pack with 15 points and is second with 7.5 rebounds per outing, has been in double figures in the seven games since, grabbing 8 or more rebounds in five of those contests. Yet, it really wasnt until the Stanford game last week where Leslie appeared completely invested into the game during every minute he was on the floor. Even in a victory over Norfolk State on Dec. 15, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried jumped all over Leslie during a timeout because he just wasnt playing with focus or intensity. He appeared almost aloof and disinterested on the court in stretches. And that wasnt the first time. But Gottfried, whose most compelling and public effort at changing the culture in the N.C. State program since taking over nearly two years ago has been his handling of Leslie, whom he refers to as Calvin, the players actual first name, had to try something different. The former Alabama coach has understandably treated Leslie different from other players. No special treatment, but let's face it, Leslie is a unique case. Watching him give effort for a few minutes reveals the reality that he can dominate a game almost any time he wants, yet that want is sometimes buried so deep inside that not even Gottfrieds efforts can extract it to the surface. With respect to the coach, its generally up to Leslie. Thats why Leslies recognition of the teams needs in the 88-79 win over Stanford and the rout of the Bonnies was and is so important. Leslie didnt force things against the Cardinal and played perhaps his best team game since arriving at N.C. State. He finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds, but he defended, was unselfish with the ball, even set a couple of real screens and communicated on defense. And then Leslie showed last Saturday what he can do just about every night if his disposition matches the Wolfpacks needs. I just wanted to come out and be aggressive, he said after the St. Bonaventure game. We have some important games coming up. We gave to be a little more serious. Im not saying I wasnt serious before, but its just time to buckle down and be ready to play. He knows. He understands. And if the last week is any indication, Leslie may finally get it. If so, thats great news for the 23rd-ranked Wolfpack (9-2) and bad news for the rest of the ACC, including top-ranked Duke, which visits PNC Arena on Jan. 12. A dialed-in Leslie with a healthy Wolfpack team can develop into one of the more dangerous teams in the nation. A Sweet 16 team a year ago, it could advance further this coming spring. And Leslie playing with a purpose is vital in N.C. State reaching those goals.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Bryce Harper has great response to $400 million contract question

Cavs discussed three-team deal that would net them Melo

Celtics reportedly discussing Kevin Love trade

New York Giants to pursue Matt Forte?

Joe Mauer to try wearing sunglasses to improve pitch tracking

Charles Woodson joining ESPN's 'Sunday NFL Countdown' team


A’s land Khris Davis from Brewers for prospects

Family of deceased Kyle Field construction worker awarded $53 million by jury

Chris Bosh to miss All-Star Game with calf injury, Al Horford to replace

NBA commissioner Adam Silver supports bringing sports betting in to the light

Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia becomes first player ever banned by MLB for PEDs

Eight bold predictions for NBA All-Star Weekend

Why the Virginia Cavaliers are a National Championship contender

Cardiff City owner tells team to shoot more, because ugly men can marry beautiful women

Report: American Pharoah will make $35 million as stud in 2016

City hosts Tottenham in Valentine’s Day clash

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Is there a place for Aaron Hill with the Brewers?

The market for forwards may shape the NHL trade deadline

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

The most intriguing NBA story lines for the rest of the season

Report: Timberwolves ‘lament’ Andrew Wiggins missing weight-lifting sessions

Kevin Durant to the Warriors makes little sense

City of Atlanta, Braves fighting over iconic Hank Aaron statue

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker