Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 7/4/13
When the NBA Draft wrapped up on June 27, just one N.C. State player out of four with a chance (some more outside than others) to be drafted had been picked. Lorenzo Brown went 52nd overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but teammates C.J. Leslie, Richard Howell and Scott Wood went undrafted. Leslie averaged 15.7 points and 7.4 rebounds last year, while Howell added 12.7 points and 10.9 rebounds (and made First Team All-ACC). Wood shot 44.1 percent from three and averaged 12.6 points, while Brown averaged 12.4 points and 7.2 assists. Howell had an outside shot at getting drafted, but Wood likely wasnt going to be. Both have latched on with summer league teams (Howell with the Nuggets, Wood with the Clippers) and both could certainly see at least some time at the NBA level. Leslie signed with the Knicks, but the uber-athletic forward not getting picked was a bit of a shock. And it was somewhat of a shock in general to see just one player from a talented N.C. State team go. Period. Head coach Mark Gottfried worked the proverbial phones for his guys as best he could leading up to draft night, only to be somewhat disappointed with the results. I was disappointed in the draft. I thought that quite frankly that (Brown) and the teams I talked to wouldve been picked higher, Gottfried said. I actually think (Howell) is in a better position, to be honest, not being drafted. (Leslie) was all over the board. I had some teams that showed a lot of interest and some teams that showed none. Like everybody, I was hoping it would turn out a little different for him. "But I still think in todays day with only two rounds and the number of guys that sign free agent contracts, I think it can work out well for all those guys. well have to wait and see. After the 2012 season, Leslie would have likely been a first-round pick. He played well in that season's NCAA Tournament, and any questions about his inconsistent effort appeared to have been answered. But he came back again for one more year -- and what typically happens to guys that make such a choice happened to him as well. The scrutiny increased, and Leslies effort didnt seem to always be there. That never stopped NBA teams from drafting players as good as Leslie before, though. That magical word -- upside -- is usually enough. But it wasnt in this case. A lot of teams candidly had a lot of concerns about how hard he played. Some teams did like him when I talked to them. Some teams had their mind made up, and it was hard to change them, Gottfried said. "I tried my best sometimes to change their mind. Its difficult. But I do believe that (Leslie) can be a really good NBA player. I still believe that today. I think New York is going to find once they get him with their summer league team and get him up there, theyre going to find hes a terrific young person. I think hes going to make their roster and I actually think hes going to play for them this year. Leslie is going to have to feed off of his disappointment in the same way that one of his teammates already is. Gottfried said he met with Howell, who was arguably the most improved player in the ACC last year, and hes using the slight to fuel him. Richard Howell has been one of those guys thats kind of been the underdog his whole life. Really, if you look at him, he wasnt a highly-rated guy coming out of high school. He wasnt a guy that anybody predicted would be a First Team All-ACC player as a senior or lead the league in rebounding like he did, Gottfried said. So for him, although hes disappointed, hell knock the doors down with the Nuggets. So I think thats kind of familiar territory for Richard. Hell find a way to surprise them and get the job done. There is a natural inclination to want to tie in N.C. States lack of draft success with its somewhat lackluster season. The ESPN NBA Draft analysts did, insisting N.C. State was a team that played no defense and called them the most disappointing team in the country last year. Gottfried isnt going to take that kind of criticism personally, though. Hey, that happens. Its part of it. I didnt watch the whole (draft), so, Gottfried said. Ive been getting criticized for a long time. It kind of rolls off after awhile. And sometimes, theyre right. Sometimes people are right, and youve got to acknowledge that. Thats okay. Move on.
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