Basketball standout C.J. Leslie is returning to North Carolina State for his junior season, a decision that will make the Wolfpack one of the favorites in the Atlantic Coast Conference next year.
The 6-foot-8 forward averaged a team-best 14.7 points and was second with 7.3 rebounds per game. The deadline for players to declare early for the NBA Draft was April 29.
”I wanted to take my time as much as possible,” Leslie said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. ”I knew I had time. It’s one of those things you can’t help but to think about. I tried to take as much time as I needed and made the best decision for me.”
Leslie helped the Wolfpack (24-13) surge late in the year to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. N.C. State pulled two upsets to advance to the round of 16 before losing a close game to national runner-up Kansas, but the team will return its top four scorers and add three McDonald’s All-Americans for coach Mark Gottfried’s second season.
”We got a little taste of it last year,” Leslie said of the attention that came with the NCAA run. ”We took it well. I know I’m going to be ready for it, and I expect my teammates to be right there with me.”
Leslie said one of those incoming freshmen, Rodney Purvis, had kept the pressure on Leslie with texts and calls trying to convince him to return to school. Purvis, a guard from Raleigh, was the Associated Press men’s prep basketball player of the year for North Carolina.
Still, Leslie said he was leaning toward returning to school from the start.
”It was a tough decision,” he said. ”That’s a big decision to make for anybody. I just figured we started a good thing last year. I might as well finish it.”