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April 28, 2010

Leslie rejoins star-studded class

C.J. Leslie was NC State's first commitment in the class of 2010, and also its most recent according to sources close to the situation.

Leslie will be holding a press conference at a time and place to be determined.

Leslie, who is Rivals.com's No. 14-ranked overall prospect, became the third player to join the Wolfpack's recruiting class, which potentially could be a top five class nationally. The trio of Leslie, point guard Ryan Harrow of Douglasville, Ga., and combo guard Lorenzo Brown of Roswell, Ga., are all ranked in the top 40 by Rivals.com, and give NC State hope for a prosperous future.

The 6-foot-7, 205-pound Leslie from nearby Raleigh Word of God, has been part of a heated recruiting battle between NC State and Kentucky, since the fall. Leslie committed to the Wolfpack on June 22, 2007. He had just completed his freshman year at Holly Springs (N.C.) High, and was about to transfer to Word of God.

Leslie's game and stature grew during his prep career, playing alongside star point guard John Wall, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft after one year in Lexington, Ky. Leslie elected to open his recruitment back up March 15, 2009, and see what else was out there. Leslie's relationship with the Wolfpack showed some chinks, so his decision wasn't surprising. He only attended one home game that season, and also made a trip to watch Memphis and then-coach John Calipari play at East Carolina.

When Calipari was hired to Kentucky, the Wildcats became one of the steady assumed leaders for Leslie. NC State tried to hang in, but was struggling in trying to lure Rivals.com's No. 4-ranked power forward.

Similar to the Wall recruitment, the Wolfpack needed the fall to arrive and for Leslie to hang out with the NC State players or recruits. Leslie slowly considered NC State as a strong choice again over his senior season. NCSU was also aided by having some schools concentrate on other players at Leslie's position.

During Leslie's senior, it became obvious that NC State and Kentucky were at the forefront of his recruitment, with Florida and UConn (where he recently officially visited) as other considerations. Florida pulled itself out of the recruitment, and the list was pared down to three. NC State assistant coach Larry Harris recruited Leslie the first time around, and head coach Sidney Lowe handled the recruitment following the decommitment.

Leslie earned spots in the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic on the court. Leslie went 3 of 6 from the field and 1 of 2 at the free-throw line en route to seven points in 17 minutes of action in the McDonald's Game on March 31 in Columbus, Ohio. He also added a team-high nine rebound for the East, who lost 107-104, and one assist, one block and two turnovers.

Leslie tallied 19 points on 8 of 11 shooting, and also went 3 of 7 from the foul line in a 129-125 loss for the East team in the Jordan Brand Classic on April 17 in New York City. He added six rebounds, three blocks, three turnovers, one assist and one steal.

Leslie played for his third prep coach in four years, but got along well with former Holy Rams' coach Erasto Hatchett this past season. Hatchett is the brother-in-law of Harrow. However, Leslie's senior season ended in disappointment when he struggled with his emotions against Red Springs Flora MacDonald in a conference championship game loss to the Cougars. He also missed the first two games of the NCISAA 1-A state playoffs, including the tournament game loss to Wilson Greenfield School due to a sprained ankle.

Leslie averaged 23.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game for the Holy Rams his senior year. He won a state title his sophomore year, and was runner-up his junior campaign. He also became first three-time all-tournament team choice for the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational.

Leslie also primarily played for three different traveling teams in high school - D-One Sports, Worldwide Renegades and Carolina Cobras. He played with future teammates Brown and rising sophomore power forward Richard Howell with the Renegades, and even spent a weekend playing with sophomore center DeShawn Painter and the Boo Williams traveling squad.

Leslie never played an organized game with NC State senior center Tracy Smith, but the Detroit native's friendship also proved a critical component in the Wolfpack landing the athletic combo-forward.

Leslie will be in contention for the starting position at either power forward or small forward depending on how his skills adjust to the college. Howell or possibly Smith could handle the starting power forward spot, while sophomore Scott Wood proved an ironman last year at small forward, and one of the team's best outside shooter.

Leslie also still has the option to officially visit NC State, which Brown and Harrow are expected to do in early May.

NCSU has one remaining scholarship available for the class of 2010.


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