CHAPEL HILL — You have to go back a ways – a long ways – to find when N.C. State last entered a basketball season as the favorite to the win the ACC. But that could change next season.
“I would think that could very easily happen, and maybe should happen,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said on Thursday.
Williams and the Tar Heels will attempt to overcome the losses of four starters, all of whom are projected to be among the top 15 selections in the NBA draft. The Wolfpack, meanwhile, return the nucleus of a team that finished 24-13 and reached the NCAA tournament Midwest Regional semifinal in coach Mark Gottfried’s first season.
C.J. Leslie, who will likely enter the season as the favorite to win ACC Player of the Year honors, is back for N.C. State. So, too, is point guard Lorenzo Brown. The Wolfpack also will welcome a recruiting class that features three McDonald’s All-Americans.
It wasn’t long ago, just a year ago, in fact, that N.C. State was attempting to rebound from a losing season. And now here the Wolfpack are.
“I think again in basketball you can turn it around a lot quicker than you can in football where you need 30 or 40 players,” Williams said. “Baseball, you just need a couple of dominating pitchers and you can really do the same kind of thing. But I think Mark's done a great job. There’s some good talent and some good players there Sidney [Lowe] brought in and Mark’s really done a great job of getting them to be even more focused and helping them mature.
“And they’ve got some big-time, big-time opportunities.”