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Jeff Gravley

The curious case of C.J. Leslie

Posted February 25, 2013
Updated February 26, 2013

C.J. Leslie was the preseason pick for ACC player of the year. He may not make first team all-conference.

His team was the preseason pick to win the ACC. They may not even make the top four.

Preseason AP voters had NC State sixth in the nation. They didn't get one single vote in this week's poll.

Leslie is a microcosm of the Wolfpack's season. Sometimes both the team and the player are good. Sometimes they leave you scratching your head. The bottom line is Leslie and the Wolfpack are too talented to be in the position they are.

Looking at last year's stats compared to this year, Leslie averages .7 more points, .3 more rebounds, .2 more assists, fewer blocked shots, fewer steals and more turnovers. That's not a great margin of improvement. But moving past the statistical comparison, the most puzzling thing about Leslie is those times when his effort doesn't meet the moment.

He was benched in the game at North Carolina, and his teammates said he apologized at halftime of that game. His coach has gone out of his way not to publicly chastise the guy he calls Calvin. But after the North Carolina game, Mark Gottfried told the world, "He's (CJ) a great player and great players got to step up and play, period. I love him as much as anybody but when you're a good player, then you have to play better."

When referencing rebounding Gottfried said, "Are we expecting Richard (Howell) to get 30 rebounds? I mean, holy mackerel, somebody else has to rebound the ball. Calvin has to step up, period."

That's as direct as the second-year coach can be. Will it work? 

I spoke with someone who has known Leslie since he was in the 9th grade and he told me Leslie hasn't heard too much criticism from coaches along his basketball journey. They were afraid if they got too strict with Leslie, he would leave their program and go somewhere else. In some cases, the person told me, Leslie would withdraw from challenging situations. 

So how in the heck is he going to thrive in the NBA environment?

I spoke with an NBA scout about Leslie, and he said the junior has improved greatly since his freshman season. He spoke glowingly about C.J.'s incredible first step and ability to get to the rim.

"Did you see him against Florida State?" the scout asked me.

I countered with, "Have you seen those moments when he looks incredibly disinterested?"

"I can't figure that out," the scout responded.

If Leslie turns pro after this season, and I have no reason to believe he will return to NC State, he will be drafted in the first round. A team may be enamored enough by his athleticism to draft him in the lottery. 

That organization will know about his talents through scouting. NBA teams have also seen those times of detachment when Leslie, a player of the year candidate, plays with the energy and passion of a turtle.

There is another side of C.J. that NBA teams may not know about. In the preseason, he often communicated with a young girl from Granville county who was battling ill effects of a brain tumor. In the midst of his greatest celebration after beating Duke, CJ saw that NC State student Will Privette had fallen out of his wheelchair. Leslie lifted him to safety and they continued to celebrate together. 

All of the elements, from the top of this page to the bottom, go into the curious case of C.J. Leslie.

103 Comments

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  • StunGunn Feb 27, 2013

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    Hammer, if you come here for comic relief, you've come to the right place! I, too would rather be active - playing in the dirt, anything like that. Give me jeans and sneakers any day. BTW: How was the roller derby last week?

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 27, 2013

    CJ has the talent and skills to anything on the court. I think that he will bounce back.

  • Mobile Geek Feb 27, 2013

    View quoted thread



    Well to start with, I have attended both schools, so that gives me a "real" perspective and not the so-called cliche. So you have allowed yourself to become part of the very fallacy of what UNC represents. An Ivy League wanna be school with a heavy set of easy liberal arts programs and professors who will simply give you an 'A' for agreeing with their political views (Yes, I learned how to milk the system at UNC by pretending). The rivalry between UNC and Duke is nothing more than a reflection of the jealousy UNC has of Duke's stature.

    UNC professes its so-called superiority in the aristocracy of academia, while being regarded really as nothing more than the help amongst the elite schools and whiny, entitlement-minded, spoiled little brats amongst other schools. As I have personally taken courses for my degree at both schools, I can say first hand, that UNC is in fact ridiculously easy. UNC is a running joke amongst many in Engineering at State, because they are good for two things. The easy 'A' and easy girls.

  • Hammerhead Feb 27, 2013

    View quoted thread



    Evenpar, I was comparing you to another frequent poster on here, in jest. Also, noting the irony of your Richmond County statement. I honestly come here for comic relief, I am a diehard fan (UW and the Packers), but don't take any of this too seriously and try to keep it in perspective. Gunny, my motto is, if you have to act cool, you ain't. I am blissfully ignorant of popular culture, and spend most of my free time getting dirty in the woods, pretending I'm 25 still, or playing with my hands.

  • StunGunn Feb 27, 2013

    View quoted thread



    Thanks, evenpar - all in good fun. You know Hammerhead? He seems like a cool guy. I've had a lot of fun over the years ribbing (and taking a lot of ribbing!) co-workers. I worked in the same building as a lot of State fans during the Doh years (I HAD to have a good sense of humor for that!), and I also worked with Duke fans. When it's done in the right spirit, rivalries are a ton of fun.

  • evenpar29 Feb 27, 2013

    View quoted thread


    I agree totaly its all about opinion. Personaly I was just having some fun with that post. Did not want to offend anyone. I did it on a dare from Tarheel fan I work with. We have some good dicussions about everything State and Carolina. The big problem I have is when she goes to google and slides the results under my door. Yes Hammerhead I played baseball and have coached both girls and boys. Do I think Gottfried was right in calling him out? Still up in the air, but I saw the frustration on his face. Jgunn I like reading yours you seem to put some thought into your post. Keep it up. Its what makes these forums fun.

  • Toddler10-21 Feb 27, 2013

    With all the negative comments about CJL, all ball hog, drug addict, drunk, selfish, etc,, I think its safe to say, I feel sorry for BC tonight!! I hope he has read every post!! This kid gets ripped when he has a great game, and there are way more good games than bad!! Go Falcons in the CIAA this week!! Go Pack!!

  • foghat001 Feb 27, 2013

    -wake_up_jeff_0

    All the way in the NIT !

  • yactfirst Feb 27, 2013

    View quoted thread

    You are probably a druggie yourself. Now you are just plain stupid. Why are you trying to attack the kid with rumors? You are hiding behind this board and think that you can say anything. You should be banded for malice intent to harm another person's character.

  • yactfirst Feb 27, 2013

    View quoted thread

    No he is not being given a free education to play basketball. If that were the case what does each person who receives a academic scholarship have to do besides study. Athletes have to study so should not that be enough. Student/Athletes. You need to understand an athletic scholarship before you speak again. Go to the NCAA and read up.

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